HC reduces jurisdiction of UNOs at upazila parishad30 March 2023
Staff Reporter :
The High Court has reduced the jurisdiction of the Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) at the upazila parishad. It has declared unconstitutional Section 33(1) of the Upazila Parishad Act that allowed Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) to perform duties as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the upazila parishad.
Following the HC verdict, the UNO cannot exercise absolute powers in running the administration of an upazila. However, the UNOs will provide secretarial assistance to the Uapzila Parishad, said the HC.
The HC Bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice Ahmed Sohel delivered the judgement on Wednesday after hearing three separate writ petitions filed in 2021 challenging Section 33 and others of the Upazila Parishad Act.
Lawyers Ajmalul Hossain and Hasan MS Azim and Minhaduzzaman Liton appeared in the court hearing on behalf of the writ petitioners, while Deputy Attorney General Samarendra Nath Biswas represented the State.
The Upazial Parishad Act, 1998 was amended in 2009. In the amended law UNOs were made Secretaries of the upazila parishad, however, later in 2011 the UNOs were made Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the upazila parishad.
Section 33(1) of the Upazila Parishad Act, 1998 says that the UNO will be the principle executive officer of upazila Parishad and he or she will provide secretarial assistance to the Parishad.
The chief executive officer (UNO) will implement the decisions of Upazila Parishad, execute its financial disciplines and perform other functions determined by the rules, according to Section 33(2) of the law.
Challenging the Section 33 and others, some upazila parishad chairmen filed three separate writ petitions with the HC.
Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Association led by its Chairman Harun-ur-Rashid and its General Secretary Saiful Islam Khan Biru filed one writ petition on December 7 in 2020.
Three others upazila parishad chairmen including Md Abdul Aziz of Dashmina upazila under Patuakhali district filed another writ challenging Sections 13 and 33 of the act on June 15 in 2021.
Another writ petition was filed in August in 2021 by Supreme Court lawyer Minhaduzzaman Liton, also an upazila chairman of Sonatola upazila parishad under Bogura district.
Upon hearing the writ petitions separate HC Benches issued rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain as to why the Section 33(1) and 33(2) of the Upazila Parishad Act should not be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
In the rule, the HC also wanted to know government's explanation as to why the UNOs' action mentioning upazila administration instead of upazila Parishad in different invitation letters should not be declared unlawful.
After final hearing on the rule the High Court Bench declared illegal and unconstitutional the Section 33(1) of the Upazila Parishad Act.
In the verdict the High Court has also declared illegal the use of term 'upazila administration'. As a result, 'upazila administration' term cannot be used from now, however, 'upazila parishad' must be used according to law.