Monday, 13 February 2017
Writ seeking cancellation of new EC rejected
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13 February 2017 The High Court today summarily rejected a writ petition filed challenging the legality of formation of the new Election Commission.

The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah passed the rejection order saying that the president has authority to form election commission with retired persons under the constitution.

Petitioner Eunus Ali Akond told The Daily Star that he would move an appeal before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the High Court rejection order.

Read More: SC lawyer files writ petition to cancel new EC

The writ petition was filed yesterday with the High Court seeking its orders upon the government to cancel the gazette notification on the formation of new EC.

Advocate Eunus Ali Akond, a Supreme Court lawyer, submitted the petition, also praying for a stay order on the oath taking programme of the chief election commissioner and other EC members.

In the petition, Akond said no retired person can be reappointed as per the Public Servants (Retirement) Act 1974. But the government has appointed retired persons as EC chief and members, violating the law.

President Abdul Hamid appointed former secretary KM Nurul Huda as chief election commissioner in line with a constitutional provision, according to a gazette notification issued on February 6.

The president also appointed four election commissioners.

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People welcome spring celebrating Pahela Falgun

13 February 2017 Pahela Falgun, the first day of Spring in the Bengali month of Falgun, is being celebrated across the country today in a colourful way with young girls and boys joining various functions wearing dazzling dresses.

Falgun is the eleventh month in the Bengali calendar and the first month of the season, Spring, the king of all the six seasons that brings back warm sunshine, budding flowers and dancing of birds.

The first of Falgun is known as Pahela Falgun and usually falls on February 13 of the Gregorian calendar.

After the dryness of winter, new leaves start to come out again and the nature adorns the branches with new colorful flowers such as Shimul, Polash and Marigold.

Falgun brings joys and colours both in nature and life. Everything in nature gives an impression of youthfulness or freshness, as if the nature takes a new birth. The festival-loving Bangladeshi people welcome and celebrate this day with great joy, love and in a colourful manner.

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Islamabad HC bars Valentine's Day celebration in public spaces

13 February 2017 The Islamabad High Court (IHC) today prohibited the celebration of Valentine's Day in public spaces and government offices across the country 'with immediate effect'.

A day before Valentine's Day, the Federal Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Islamabad High Commission have been told by Justice Shaukat Aziz, who was hearing the case, to submit their replies regarding the immediate execution of the court's orders.

Print and electronic media have also been warned to "stop all Valentine's Day promotions immediately", while Pemra has been ordered to monitor all mediums and send out notifications banning any related promotions.

The orders were given on a petition submitted by citizen Abdul Waheed, who maintained that promotions on mainstream and social media for Valentine's Day are "against Islamic teachings and should be banned immediately."

The petition had further called for a ban on the celebration of Valentine's Day in public places.

Every year, Valentine's Day draws a mixed response from Pakistani citizens, with some supporting and celebrating it, but a few protesting its observance.

In major cities, various restaurants, delivery services and bakeries come up with Valentine's Day promotions.

On the other hand, there are those who come up with anti-Valentine's campaigns, such as 'Haya Day' on university campuses and various 'Say no to Valentine's Day' campaigns throughout the country.

Last year, President Mamnoon Hussain had urged Pakistanis to forego celebrtating Valentine’s Day, saying that it was not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West.

He had said, “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” and added that the downsides of western culture had "adversely affected one of our neighbouring countries."

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Death penalty for flight operation bar

13 February 2017 Bangladesh government today endorsed a draft law that proposes maximum death penalty for obstructing aircraft operation.

Alternatively, the offense can also result in life imprisonment and fine of Tk 5 crore, the cabinet decided in the weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The law Civil Aviation Operation Act-2017 has been approved with an increase in both punishment and fine, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters after the meeting.

The cabinet approved the law in principally in February last year.

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No red meat on menu today

13 February 2017 For patrons of Mollah Hotel in Dhaka’s Gulisthan, the menu will have no spicy beef curry or beef khichuri today.

On the first day of the six-day strike called by meat traders in the capital, many hotel owners and customers are suffering as no cow has been slaughtered here since last night.

Meat traders went on the strike from today, demanding a stop to “excessive tax collection” by the lessee in the city's only permanent cattle market at Gabtoli.

Read More: No red meat for six days

Each day about 20 kilogrammes of meat is served at the Mollah Hotel, according to its owner Mohammad Moin.

Meat merchants in Dhaka to go for a six-day strike demanding “withdrawal of excessive tax imposed to them at Dhaka’s Gabtali”. Star file photo

Extra chicken was brought to compensate for the unavailability of red meat, Moin told our correspondent who was visiting some of the big kitchen markets and hotels in the city.

In Kaptan Bazar, one of the busiest kitchen markets in south Dhaka, gates were clasped shut at the slaughter house. Each day about 50 cows are slaughtered here, however today operations came to a stall owing to the strike, a representative of the Meat Traders, Mojibor, said.

Asgar Ali, owner of Asgar Enterprise, said despite having a valid license, the government taxes are not maintained if the cow is priced just over Tk 50,000.

Meanwhile, at super shops Meena Bazar and Shwapno, there is both beef and mutton on sale. The beef is priced at Tk460 per kg and mutton Tk690 per kg at Shwapno, while at Meena Bazar beef is Tk 465 per kg and mutton is Tk719 per kg.

Robiul Alam, secretary general of Bangladesh Meat Merchants' Association, claimed that the lessee of the Gabtoli Cattle Market is collecting tax from meat traders at rates meant for buyers other than the traders.

The traders have been paying between Tk 200 and Tk 5,000 in tax for each animal over the last nine months, and most of them could not make profit due to “excessive tax collection” by the lessee, he alleged.

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Govt can’t collect VAT form English medium school students: SC

13 February 2017 The Supreme Court today ruled that the government cannot collect value added tax (VAT) from the students of English medium schools.

The apex court also extended its stay order on the High Court verdict that declared imposition of 7.5 percent VAT on tuition fees of English medium schools illegal.

READ ALSO: SC upholds HC order on VAT on private universities

A four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed the order after hearing a leave to appeal petition filed by National Board of Revenue (NBR) seeking a stay on the HC verdict.

The SC allowed the government to move an appeal before this court against the HC, Deputy Attorney General SM Moniruzzaman told The Daily Star.

He also said the NBR has been collecting 7.5 percent VAT from the English medium schools not from their students.

Following a writ petition, the HC on December 12 last year declared the imposition of VAT on tuition fees of English medium schools illegal and directed the authorities concerned to stop collecting VAT from January this year.

The HC court delivered the verdict on the ground that VAT on English medium education is discriminatory since no VAT was imposed on fees of other institutions and such discrimination is a violation of Article-17 of the constitution.

ALSO READ: SC stays HC order against VAT on fees

Following a stay petition filed by the NBR, the SC on January 3 stayed the HC verdict also asked the NBR to file a leave to appeal petition with the SC by January 29 against the High Court judgment.

Advocate AM Aminuddin appeared for the writ petitioners.

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