THE Appellate Division’s dismissal of the Bangladesh Bank’s appeals against High Court verdicts that earlier had asked the central bank to refund to businesses about Tk 6.16 billion extracted from them by the army-led task forces during the 2007–2008 military-controlled interim regime is a welcome step towards the furtherance of the rule of law. No one can unlawfully take someone’s money away. This is more so in view of undue pressure and torture that the army-led task forces that time used to extract the money, Tk 12.29 billion in total, from 40 business entities and individuals and deposited into the state exchequer as of June 2008. The finance minister in 2010 told the parliament that Tk 12.32 billion realised form the companies and individuals during the interim regime were deposited in the Bangladesh Bank. The amount of money was paid through pay orders, as the businesses argued in the court. The process, and the associated undue pressure and torture, that the army-led task forces employed in extracting the money was unlawful and the appeals court’s upholding the High Court verdicts delivered in 2010, 2012 and 2013 has sought to set the wrongs right to further the rule of law.
But the court’s order for the government to refund the amount to the business, which serves the rule of law, does not necessarily mean that the money that was thus extracted by the army-led task force may not be tainted. The money was then extracted in the name of adjusting dues in value-added tax, income tax and duty that the business and individuals had allegedly evaded. The central bank, as New Age reported on Friday quoting its lawyer as saying, will file a petition with the appeals court for a review of the judgement as ‘people cannot accept any decision that may encourage corruption.’ This may not be entirely true as in such a situation, what the government should, rather, do is to investigate the cases involving both the money and the allegations that the money has entailed. In the furtherance of the rule of law, the Anti-Corruption Commission should now come forward and take up the cases against the business entities and individuals, not just involving about Tk 6.16 billion but also the whole of Tk 12.29 billion reported to have been extracted in this manner and then deposited into the central bank.
Economies mired in economic and financial corruption cannot function properly as in such a situation, the natural laws of the economy are hampered. Corruption, thus, has adverse implications on the nation’s political and economic functions, affecting the average income and, thus, leaving the entire society to suffer. The government, under the circumstances, must deal with, separately, the allegations of tainted money extracted from business and individuals by the army-led task forces stringently. The Anti-Corruption Commission, on its own, should initiate investigation of the allegations and punish people and business entities against whom the allegations are levelled if they are found to be guilty through fair and independent investigation process.
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