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BANGLADESH: Court stops move to gag media, denies stay prayer

The Appellate Division yesterday turned down a plea to ban media reports
on constructions on the Sangsad Bhaban complex

The Daily Star
Thursday, July 8, 2004

The Appellate Division yesterday turned down a plea to ban media reports
on constructions on the Sangsad Bhaban complex minutes after it also did
not grant another prayer for a stay on a High Court order declaring
construction of the residences of speaker and deputy speaker illegal.

As soon as the bench declined to pass the order, the attorney general
sought an embargo on media coverage of development work on the Sangsad
Bhaban complex. The bench also declined to entertain the second prayer.

The High Court on June 21 declared the constructions illegal following a
writ petition filed by Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) and the
Institute of Architects, Bangladesh (IAB).

Bapa and the IAB in their petition said the construction of the two
residential buildings on the parliament complex would greatly distort
the Sangsad Bhaban's final

masterplan by world famous architect Louis I Kahn. In his master plan,
Kahn had earmarked the site as an open space where the government took
up the residence construction at a cost of about Tk 6 crore. The
buildings are now complete with interior designing being done.

As soon as the government gets the certified copy of the June 21 High
Court verdict, it plans to seek permission to file an appeal petition
against the order, according to sources in the Public Works and Housing
Ministry.

But pending the petition, Additional Attorney General Fida M Kamal
yesterday first appealed to the bench comprising Chief Justice Syed JR
Mudassir Husain, Justice Fazlul Karim , Justice MA Aziz and Justice
Amirul Kabir Chowdhury for a stay order on the High Court verdict.

Considered worldwide as one of the finest examples of modern day
architecture, Sangsad Bhaban complex has been subjected to repeated
infringement on its designs by successive governments. The Awami League
government built the NAM conference hall demolishing the Weather
Building originally designed by Kahn.

The ruling coalition distorted Kahn's design by taking up a massive
project to build a bridge across the Crescent Lake behind the main
parliament building and convert a large area of Chandrima Udyan into a
mausoleum of the late president Ziaur Rahman. The under construction
complex consists of a mosque, a seminar hall and other installation.
Experts say such massive distortions of the original plan would not only
destroy the beauty of Sangsad Bhaban but also hinder the international
process of declaring the parliament complex a World Heritage Site.

Dr Kamal Hossain, who along with Barrister Tanjib ul Alam yesterday
opposed the government move, told The Daily Star: "We now all hope that
the government would declare the parliament complex a national heritage
site."

Date Posted: 7/8/2004