The High Court (HC) on Sunday directed Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Bepul Bagmar to provide information on what steps have been taken to form the Land Survey Appellate Tribunals in 17 years after the formulation of law to this effect.
The court warned summoning the land secretary to explain if steps were not taken.
Expressing discontent over the government's failure to form the appellate tribunals despite being directed by the court, an HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahman and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman issued the order on Sunday.
"The law was formed in 2004. There are court verdicts and directives. Yet, the appellate tribunals have not been formed in 17 years. This is annoying to the court," the judges said during the hearing of a writ petition challenging two verdicts of the Land Survey Tribunal over a four Katha land in Demra of the capital.
Admonishing the DAG over the failure, the HC said, "Talk to the land secretary about it. Inform us what steps have been taken."
"If steps were not taken, the land secretary will be summoned [to explain]," the court warned.
Lawyer Nosib Kayser stood for the writ petitioners at the hearing, while DAG Bagmar represented the state.
This is not the first time the HC has expressed its discontent over the failure to form the appellate tribunals.
Previously, in 2015 the court issued a suo-moto rule asking the government why the appellate tribunals will not be formed soon.
Later, following a lengthy hearing process, three HC judges in a landmark verdict directed the law and land ministry to form land appellate tribunals within 90 days.
According to the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act, High Court or Supreme Court judges were to lead the Land Survey Appellate Tribunals.
But after the HC order in 2019, the government moved to amend the provision for the appointment of appellate tribunal judges.
According to the move, the district judge's court would record the appeals, and joint district judges, senior assistant judges, and assistant judges would hear the cases challenging tribunal orders.
The land ministry prepared a draft of the amendment and the law ministry's parliamentary committee formed a sub-committee to finalise the draft.
But so far the draft has not seen the light of day.
When asked about this, Barrister Shamim Haider Patowary, president of the sub-committee said "Our work is nearing its end. Hopefully, we will be able to present it to parliament as a bill."
According to a recent Supreme Court count, there are currently 44 Land Survey Tribunals in the country riddled with 3.5 lakh cases. Of these cases, 1.16 lakh land-related lawsuits are older than five years.