The Jatiya Sangsad on Sunday passed the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act 2021 aiming to establish Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its maritime boundary and assets and to facilitate search and extraction of marine resources.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen placed the bill at the House which was unanimously passed by voice votes with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
Placing the bill, the minister said the proposed law will be enacted through amending the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act-1974.
Earlier, the new draft bill was approved at a regular cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair although the first draft act was approved on November 20, 2019.
Thirty-five new sections are incorporated in the fresh draft including the provision of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction in entry of foreign vessels and submarines into Bangladesh maritime boundary.
The draft also defines Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to make the law up to date.
It also clearly outlines the boundary of Contiguous Zone which was extended to 24 miles from 18 miles in old draft.
Contiguous Zone is a band of water extending farther from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline.
Economic Zone is replaced by Exclusive Economic Zone in the fresh draft in line with the definition of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS-1982) to establish absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and its assets.
Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted sovereign right to stretch of sea up to 200 nautical miles beyond their coast, which is known as exclusive economic zone.
The new draft proposes maximum three years imprisonment or a monetary fine of minimum Tk 2 crore and maximum Tk 5 crore for maritime pollution which was one-year imprisonment and Tk 5,000 fine in the old law.
The new one was also included provision of punishment for offence in Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and Contiguous Zone.
Provision of video, photo, electronics records was included as evidence in proving the offences and incidents in the sea as the witness of most of the offences were not found in the alien nature of crimes.
Bills passed raising CJ, SC judges’ allowances
Two bills were passed in parliament on Sunday raising the allowances of the Chief Justice and the judges of the Appellate Division and the High Court.
Law Minister Anisul Huq moved the two bills -- ‘Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Remuneration and Privileges) Act, 2021’ and ‘Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Travelling Allowance) Act, 2021’.
The Bills were passed by voice vote.
The Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Remuneration and Privileges) Act, 2021 will replace the existing ordinance of 1978 while the Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Travelling Allowance) Act, 2021 will replace an ordinance of 1976.
15th session of 11th JS prorogued
The fifteenth session of 11th parliament was prorogued today after a total of nine sittings as the brief session begun on the second week of this month maintaining all necessary health safety rules amid corona pandemic.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury read out the prorogation order of President M Abdul Hamid.
Leader of the House Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina delivered her winding up speech at the closing session. Deputy leader of the opposition in parliament Golam Mohammad Quader also delivered his speech at the session.
This session was important as a special discussion was held marking the golden jubilee of the Independence and President M Abdul Hamid delivered a commemorative speech recalling the contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the Independence.
Leader of the House Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed a motion under section 147 of the Rules of Procedure after the President’s commemorative speech.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, deputy leader of the opposition, chief whip and MPs took part in the discussion. Parliament unanimously passed the special motion placed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan.
Lawmakers thumped their desks to celebrate the passage of the motion after Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury put it to vote following discussions for over 14 hours 48 hours.
A total of nine bills were placed in this brief session which was ultimately passed by parliament.
Along with the legal procedure, a total of 42 important notices under section 71 of the rules of procedure were received.
During the question-answer session, a total of 41 questions were received for the Prime Minister’s question-answer session. The Prime Minister answered ten questions. In addition to this, 566 questions out of 1,012 questions were answered by the ministers under different ministries during the session.
Parliament also has adopted a thanks giving motion to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under section 147 of the rules of procedure after a discussion in the House as the UN agency has launched an international award titled ‘UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize in the field of creativity.