This edition of ‘From the Court Corridor’ curates the notable pronouncements of the High Court Division (HCD) of the Supreme Court (SC) of Bangladesh in September 2021.

Issuing a rule on why road crash compensation fund should not be made

On August 17 five SC lawyers served a legal notice to the defendants including the secretaries to the Road Transport and Highways, Law, and Finance divisions, senior secretary to the Security Service Division of the Home Ministry, and the chairman of BRTA, directing them to take measures to fully implement the Road Transports Act (RTA) 2018. After receiving no response from them, the petitioners filed a writ petition at the HCD contesting the authorities’ inaction.

According to the act, a fund and a trustee board were expected to be established to recompense people who were wounded in road accidents as well as the relatives of those who died in road accidents. A number of aspects of this statute have evidently been disregarded in these last three years since it was passed in parliament. The petitioner also claimed that no step has been taken yet to establish the compensation fund is a proof to this negligence regarding the execution of the sections of this act.

The HCD issued a ruling last month questioning why it shouldn’t mandate the creation of a financial aid fund overseen by a board of trustees, from which payments might be given toward compensation packages and medical bills for victims of road accidents. During a virtual hearing on a writ petition filed in this respect, the learned justices issued an order to enforce Sections 53 and 54 of the Road Transport Act 2018. Moreover, the respondents were asked to respond within four weeks of the issuing of the order.

With no doubt, the above-mentioned issue involves a very critical concern of the current status quo regarding the on-going massacre and blood bath found in our streets. As such, the court has correctly observed the merit of the case and through its diligent judgment, it has upheld the rights of its citizens. Given the scenario, it is the duty of the concerned authority to execute the ruling given by the court. Therefore, it is expected that the court will make its decision absolute and thereby take proper steps to execute the rule.

Issuing an order to include Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech in textbooks

The HCD has ruled that the historic speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, be included in university, college, secondary, and higher secondary school textbooks. The ruling was announced last month after a second hearing on an earlier rule. The petitioner also mentioned that the speech will be included in textbooks by an expert committee.

The court further ordered that the work on Bangabandhu’s sculpture at Suhrawardy Udyan be completed as soon as possible, and that the prior order to install Bangabandhu’s murals in all districts be carried out.

In February 2020 the HCD directed the appropriate authorities to announce March 7 as Historic National Day and issue a gazette notification in this respect within the following month.

On that day the court issued a regulation inquiring why it should not adopt an order requiring the inclusion of the rich history of March 7 in elementary, secondary, intermediate, and university curriculum.

Father of the nation and the March 7 speech are intertwined with the heart and soul of our country. It has a great impact on our history as well as our day-to-day life. Thus, it is ought to be in the text-books of every curriculum. Therefore, the order issued by the HC is very relevant involving a crucial issue of our nation which is expected to be manifested with due diligence and rigour.

Directing the government to set up biometric registrations at the prisons and police stations to identify the criminals

The government was ordered by the HCD to install biometric systems in jails and police stations around the country to identify offenders with the help of artificial intelligence. According to media sources, it also requested the home ministry to take the required steps to implement a data management system to store biometric data by recording the accused’s fingerprints, palms, and iris. The order also recommended to store full-face mugshots of the accused in a database following their arrest. As per the media reports, the directions came after a HCD panel led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman found an arrest warrant issued by a lower court to be unconstitutional. Later a writ petition was filed at the HCD following which the HCD gave the verdict.  

This pronouncement, undoubtedly, involves an important concern of our society regarding the criminal jurisdiction. Previously we have seen a number of cases of misrepresentation of offenders which led to severe negative impact of such acts. As such, the court has correctly observed the gravity of the case and consequently issued such an order. It is expected that the court will establish the pertinent ruling in light of the pronouncement to uphold the rights of the citizens and also ease the cumbersome work of the relevant authorities.

Ordering legal action against unlicensed microcredit lenders

The HCD has ordered the Bangladesh Bank to set up a special committee to look into the operations of unlicensed financial institutions that deal in microcredit loans. The authority in charge of microcredit regulation has been granted 45 days to compile a list of local interest dealers.

The HCD has ordered the Bangladesh Bank to set up a special committee to look into the operations of unlicensed financial institutions that deal in microcredit loans. If any unapproved or unlicensed microcredit institutions or enterprises are identified, the court has ordered the committee to enlist the aid of local government representatives to promptly close their offices and initiate legal action against them.

Furthermore, during a hearing on eavesdropping on phone calls, the HCD has noted the significance of establishing a public campaign against deceptive e-commerce in order to safeguard consumers’ interests and prevent such instances from occurring in the nation.

Given the present scenario of our country regarding microcredit loans, e-commerce and the untold sufferings of the general masses as negative consequences of these businesses, the order passed by the court was a crying need. Thus, the notable order of the HCD, is really praiseworthy and pertinent given the serious situation we have faced lately as a consequence of the aforementioned operations of unlicensed financial institutions that deal in microcredit loans.

Issuing a rule for formulating policy on appointment through outsourcing

The HCD issued a rule requiring the stakeholders involved to explain why they would not pass an order establishing a policy for making appointments through outsourcing. The Court ordered the secretary of Public Administration and the secretary of Women and Children’s Affairs to respond to the ruling within four weeks.

The petitioners stated that in 2018 54 workers were hired through outsourcing at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and their contracts terminated in July. These folks are now in a very difficult situation. They don’t have a job or a source of money. As a result, the writ petition is being filed requesting a policy for appointment via outsourcing.

The HCD comprising Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman passed the aforementioned order.

Without a question, this is a key worry about the existing status quo in regard to the aforesaid issue and the pertinent victims of this predicament. As a result, the court correctly assessed the case’s merits and, via its meticulous decision, maintained the rights of its citizens. It is expected that the intervention of the apex court will enable to take the due measures to formulate the relevant policy regarding appointment of individuals through outsourcing.

Issuing an order prohibiting suspension of non-government school teachers for more than six months

The petitioner stated that, a teacher at Baharbagh Secondary School in Magura upazila named Badshah Mia, was suspended from his work in 2007. He filed a writ petition in 2017 since the charge against him had not been dropped until then, and there was no defined time for holding a non-government school teacher suspended. The court later delivered a ruling in this respect.

In this context last month the HCD issued an order preventing non-government school, college, and madrasa teachers from being suspended for more than six months. The court further stated that if the suspension order is not lifted after six months, it will no longer be legitimate.

This order given by the apex court is praiseworthy as it incorporated the non-government teachers under the scope of government supervision under rigorous laws and regulations. The HCD showed its broader perspective in dealing with the occupational rights of its citizens irrespective of government or non-government job holders. Thus, it is expected that the court will make its decision absolute and thereby take proper measures to execute the order by the relevant authorities as early as possible.