Although they have no authority to do so, women councillors from reserved seats of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) are issuing different certificates, creating problems for the service-seekers.
Residents who are taking the certificates without being unaware of the law allege that they are facing problems with such certificates as those are not being accepted anywhere.Women councillors from the reserved seats are providing succession, citizenship and character certificates for the city dwellers.
However, law officers of the two city corporations say the reserved seat councillors have no authority to issue any certificate.
They also said only general councillors are authorised to issue succession, nationality and character certificates to the residents.
A gazette notification, issued on September 10, 2012, also mentioned the authority of the general councillors in this regard.
Councillors can issue succession, nationality and character certificates, according to section 3 (3) of the law while it does not mention anything about the authority of the reserved seat councillors.
Deputy Secretary (City Corporation-1) of the Local Government Division Numeri Zaman said reserved seat councillors are not authorised by the law to issue certificates and if anyone issues any certificates, it will be illegal.Asked whether the mayor can authorise a reserved seat councillor to issue a certificate, he said, “It’s the government which delegates the power through gazette notification. The mayor can’t do it.”
The issue came to the fore after a resident named Rakibul Islam, 22, filed a general diary with Dakkhinkhan Police Station against DNCC reserved seat councillor Zakia Sultana for providing him a citizenship certificate following his application.
On March 21, Rakibul filed the general diary, mentioning that the councillor had cheated him by issuing the certificate as she was not authorised to do so. “I took a citizenship certificate from the councillor. But when I submitted it for a job purpose, it was rejected by the authorities concerned.”
Asked, Zakia Sultana, councillor from wards 49, 50 and 51, said, “There’re no specific guidelines mentioned in the law that I can’t issue the certificate. I’m not issuing any succession, nationality or character certificate but a citizenship certificate.”
The matter of citizenship certificate is not mentioned anywhere of the rules, she said.
DNCC reserved seat councillor Shahida Aktar Shila said she issues certificates when the general councillor remains absent due to illness or for staying abroad. “Our mayor has authorised us to provide certificates when the general councillor is not available,” she said.
Former DNCC Chief Law Officer Abdul Hamid Mia said reserved seat councillors cannot issue any certificate as per the rules of 2012. “It’s illegal. But I don’t know how they’re issuing certificates. If anyone is victimised by the issuance of such certificates, they can go for legal action,” he said.
DSCC Chief Law Officer Khairul Hasan also said reserved seat councillors cannot issue any certificate. “If anyone does anything what is not mentioned in the rules, this will be a clear violation of the law,” he said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, DSCC reserved seat councillor Farzana Yasmin Biplobi said she has long been issuing certificates but never faced any question from anyone. “Not only me but also my predecessor issued certificates without any hesitation. When a general councillor remains absent and a certificate is very essential for a citizen, I issue the certificate,” Biplobi, also a panel mayor of the DSCC, said.
Nazma Begum, councillor from reserved seat No. 15 of DSCC (wards 48, 50 and 51), said she has been issuing certificates during her two terms of councillorship. “If we can’t issue any certificate to our people, then what will be our duty? People voted us to office for delivering them some services like this,” she said.
Contacted, legal expert Barrister Tureen Afroz said men and women are equal in the eyes of law.
“We generally say male and female councillors enjoy the same rights but it has not been reflected in the city corporation rules. A reserved seat councillor is elected for three wards. The discrimination mentioned in the law goes against the spirit of our constitution and international women charter,” she said.
Tureen Afroz demanded that the government should bring an amendment to the law which discriminates women to exercise the equal power.