Corrupt bureaucrats trying to prolong vested property return’

Rights activists on Monday alleged that the ‘corrupt bureaucrats at the land administration’ are trying to prolong the crisis on the return of the ‘vested properties’ by lobbying for an amendment to the Vested Property Return (Amendment) Act 2013.

The bureaucrats at the land administration want to take advantage of the proposed amendment that will enable the government to publish gazettes on fresh-enlistment of lands for an ‘indefinite period’ and leave the much scope for the harassment of landowners by the officials, they told a press conference.

Nine rights organisations and citizen groups organised the press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU). The Act has provisions to complete district-wise lists of vested property and publish those through gazette notifications within 120 days of the enactment, but the proposed inclusion of section 30(A) in the Act will prolong the enlistment process for an indefinite period, they added.

The cabinet at a meeting on April 1 approved the amendment proposal. Reading out a statement on behalf of the nine organisations, Sammilito Samajik Andolon general secretary Tabarak Hossain said: “If the proposed inclusion of section 30(A) comes into effect, the effectiveness of the vested property repeal act and the power for the gazette enlistment of new lands will continue forever. It contradicts with the main objective of the Vested Property Return Act 2001 and the amendments made in 2011.”

The statement also noted that the government must immediately make amendments to the law to expand the timeline for claiming the inheritance of the property that has been enlisted under the Vested Property Return (Amendment) 2011 act.

Most victims of the vested property act had failed to submit the complaints to the tribunal or the committee in the fixed timeline due to corruption and lack of cooperation by the land officials, said the statement.

The statement pressed home a seven-point demand that included expanding the timeline for the submission of the complaints by 300 days.

The signatories to the statement include Ain o Salish Kendro executive director Sultana Kamal, Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad (BHBCOP) general secretary Rana Das Gupta, Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, ALRD executive director Shamsul Huda and Arpito Sampatti Ain Protirodh Andolon (ASAPA) president Kamal Lohani.

Speaking on the occasion, ASAPA general secretary Subrata Chowdhury said: “Wrong information in the gazette, such as the names of the owners or the inheritors, can be corrected. But the move to allow the publication of supplementary gazettes to expand the list of properties is no doubt intended to trap general people with their property.”

“It’s (proposed amendment) an attempt to prolong the crisis of vested property laws in a new form,” he added.