Court orders Chandpur DC to collect four years of back taxes from illegal Meghna sand mining

The Appellate Division in May quashed a High Court order that allowed Md Salim Khan to extract sand from the Meghna river bed

Published : 8 August 2022, 06:39 PM
Updated : 8 August 2022, 06:39 PM

The Supreme Court has ordered the Chandpur district administration to collect back taxes for the last four years from an expelled Awami League politician for his illegal sand mining operation on the Meghna river bed.

The directive was reflected in a 16-page verdict, which was published on the court’s website on Monday, confirmed Deputy Attorney General Kazi Mainul Hasan.

On May 29, a three-member bench of the Appellate Division, led by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, quashed a High Court Division order that allowed Md Salim Khan, chairman of Chandpur Sadar Upazila’s Lakshmipur union, to extract sand from the Meghna river bed in Chandpur.

“Now the Chandpur DC [deputy commissioner] will act to collect the back taxes,” he said.

A High Court bench on Apr 5, 2018, allowed Selim, who filed a writ petition with the court to allow him to mine sand in ‘public interest’ to extract sand from the Meghna river in Chandpur Sadar and Haimchar areas.

The court also directed officials to issue the necessary paperwork for Selim for the endeavour.

The chamber judge of the Appellate Division on Apr 4 this year stayed the High Court order following an appeal by the state to re-examine the case.

It was revealed during the full hearing by the full Appellate Division bench that Selim had never actually applied for any paperwork, hence his sand mining operation should have been deemed illegal.

In the full verdict, the Appellate bench wrote that the High Court Division’s verdict was “erroneous” in many aspects and “expressed frustrations” over the violation of many procedures by the court officers, affiliated with the said division bench.

Four days after the court ordered a stop to the mining operation, Selim was expelled from the ruling party. At the time of his expulsion, he was serving as president of the Lakshmipur union unit of the party.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission, or ACC, started a case against Selim last week, accusing him of concealing information about unaccountable wealth worth Tk 345 million. In addition, he has been accused of concealing information about Tk 6.7 million in his wealth statement to the graft-busters.

Following a raid on Apr 6 this year, the national anti-graft watchdog found that the expelled ruling party leader had attempted to misappropriate around Tk 4 billion by overvaluing the price of a piece of land for the Chandpur University of Science and Technology.

According to ACC, the price of the land was 20 times higher than the government’s fixed price for land acquisition. The ACC, however, said Selim failed to embezzle the amount as the matter had come to light.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher