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Bangladesh separates judiciary, executive

November 01, 2007 14:42 IST

In a landmark move, Bangladesh's military-backed interim government on Thursday announced formal separation of judiciary from the executive, describing it as a crucial step to ensure rule of law and "completeness of democracy".

"This is the outcome of the century-old demand of the civil society," Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who heads the government, said at a ceremony marking the formal separation of the judiciary with appointment of 218 judicial magistrates.

The high court had in 1997 ordered the separation while the Appellate Division upheld the verdict in 1999, rejecting a government appeal.

However, the governments headed by Sheikh Hasina of Awami League and her archrival Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party had put off implementing the order at least 28 times, angering the Supreme Court.

Hasina and Zia, both facing graft charges, are currently in jail after being arrested under the government's massive anti-graft drive.

According to the amended laws, the president would now need to exercise his powers regarding appointment, promotion, posting and control of the judicial service in consultation with the Supreme Court.

Also the country will have two categories of magistrates -- judicial and executive -- to perform different functions.

A total of 223 judicial officers or lower court judges in 1995 filed a writ petition in high court seeking to effectively separate judiciary from the executive claiming their service were being regulated by the government's law ministry in violation of the Constitution.

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