This edition of ‘From the Court Corridor’ curates the notable pronouncements of the High Court Division (HCD) and the Appellate Division (AD) of the Supreme Court (SC) of Bangladesh in December 2021.
Declaring denial of government jobs to the qualified ones for not having any land as a permanent address unacceptable
Mim Akhter, a resident of Khulna, was denied a police job due to not having a permanent address even after topping the merit list of the recruitment test for a police constable job. The Supreme Court (SC) lawyer, Chanchal Kumar Biswas, brought a news report on the heart-rending incident with Mim to the court’s attention and sought necessary directives from the court.
The HCD bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman, in response to the news report, expressed its displeasure over the denial of the police job to Mim. The bench said barring someone from joining a government job because of not having any land is unacceptable. The court also raised a question on whether around 2,000 people who lose their homes to river erosion every year will be disqualified to get recruited by the government. Further, the HCD bench said that people like Mim should be encouraged for topping such competitive exams rather than being refused what they are clearly deserving of.
Under Article 29 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, it is a fundamental right of every citizen of Bangladesh to get equal opportunity in public employment. The same Article bars discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or place of birth in respect of employment in the public service. The denial of the government job on the ground of not having any permanent address is clearly discriminatory and violative of the fundamental right of equal opportunity in public employment. The HCD’s strong response to such incidents accompanying its expression of discontent and unacceptance will expectantly put an end to this discriminatory practice that violates Article 29 of the Constitution.
Directing the authorities concerned to form a committee to include the proclamation of independence in textbooks
On 2 December SC lawyer, Uttam Kumar Lahery, through his lawyers, Nahid Sultana Juthi and ABM Shahjahan Akondo Masum, filed a petition as public interest litigation to the HCD seeking directives on incorporating declaration and proclamation of independence in textbooks. Ten officials concerned, including primary and mass education secretary and home affairs secretary, were made respondents in this petition.
The HCD bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman, following the petition, directed the education secretary to form a committee of experts to determine the mechanisms to include the declaration and proclamation of independence in textbooks. The bench also issued a rule asking concerned governmental authorities to explain why they should not be directed to include them in both Bangla and English textbooks at all levels of education.
The declaration of independence of Bangladesh came from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 26 March 1971 at the outset of the Liberation War. Endorsing the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu, The Mujibnagar government adopted the proclamation of independence on 10 April 1971, at Baidyanathtala of Meherpur. The incidents above were of great significance to achieve an independent Bangladesh by fighting a liberation war that was won in the sacrifice of almost three million lives. To become acquainted with the history of the bloodstained liberation war of Bangladesh, proper knowledge of the declaration and proclamation of independence is indispensable. To provide such knowledge to the younger generation, the inclusion of those events in their textbooks appear to be quite feasible. The order and direction by the HCD as to the incorporation of those events in textbooks will undoubtedly help the young generations become acquainted with the glorious history of the liberation war and the spirit thereof being cultivated among them.
Imposing a ban on the import of battery-run easy bikes and ordering them to be removed from roads
On 13 December, Kazi Zashimul Islam, the president of BAAG Eco Motors Limited, filed a writ petition with the HCD challenging the legality of importing illegal battery-run three-wheelers and easy bikes and the manufacture of such environmentally-damaging vehicles in Bangladesh. According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Atiq Towhidul Islam, there are 40 lakh easy bikes running on electric charge illegally in Bangladesh and depriving the government of a huge amount of revenue as they escape the government’s taxation procedure.
Upon hearing the writ petition, the HCD bench of Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman imposed a ban on the import of battery-run easy bikes and asked BRTA and agencies concerned to extract the existing ones from the roads at once. The court also delivered a ruling in which it questioned why the government’s silence on the subject would not be considered unconstitutional. The court asked the Secretaries for industries, road transport and bridges, and climate change, the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, the BRTA, the National Board of Revenue, and the inspector general of police to reply to the rule within four weeks.
The battery-run easy bikes are mostly imported from China illegally. Such vehicles have no test report from the BUET, and the importers do not have any registration under BIDA to run their vehicles on roads. The HCD earlier for several times passed directives to prevent the plying of unauthorised and unfit vehicles, including the battery run easy bikes that are often blamed for deaths of travellers in road accidents. The government is also losing revenue due to its failure to bring the battery-run vehicles sector under a formal framework. Given such circumstances, the imposition of a ban by the HCD on the importation and plying of Battery-run easy bikes appear to be expedient.
Issuing rule asking why the family of Sadia who died falling into a roadside drain should not be compensated Tk 10 crore
On 27 September Sehrin Mahbub Sadia, a first-year computer science honours student went missing slipping down an open roadside drain at Agrabad Badamtali area while returning home with her uncle after buying eyeglasses. Despite her uncle’s effort, she couldn’t be rescued immediately, and her dead body was recovered from the drain five hours later. Subsequently, Barrister Aneek R. Haque, on behalf of Ain o Salish Kendra and Children’s Charity Bangladesh Foundation, filed a writ petition with the HCD seeking 10 crores in compensation for Sadia’s accidental death.
Upon hearing the petition, the HCD bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Md Mostafizur Rahman issued a rule asking why the family of Sehrin Mahbub Sadia should not be compensated Tk10 crore. The court also ordered the authorities concerned, the secretaries of the local government ministry and home ministry, the Chattogram divisional commissioner, the chairman of Chattogram City Corporation, and the Chattogram Development Authority, to respond to the rule within a month. The court also asked the Chattogram district administration to submit a report on the current condition of the place where Sadia died, within two months.
In city areas, due to the negligence of the city authorities, drains are often found open, causing deaths on several occasions. In August, in the same way, a 50-year-old man went missing after falling into a roadside drain in Chattogram. Despite the urge from the citizens and town planners to cover up the drains with slabs, most of the city drains are still kept open. The issuance of a rule to compensate Sadia’s family with Taka 10 crore by HCD, if it becomes absolute, will discourage the deadly negligent actions of the concerned city authorities. Moreover, the HCD’s move in the instant petition to grant monetary relief to the victim will outline a remarkable growth in the practice of granting compensation under public law remedies.
Issuing a rule disallowing individual copyright claim on historical images, photos of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Liberation War of Bangladesh
SC lawyer, Syed Sayedul Haque Suman, submitted the writ petition with the HCD on 31 August 2020, claiming that Journalist Nazmul Hasan, in his two books on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman named Bangabandhu Maanei Bangladesh and 3053 Din violated copyright and intellectual property rights. The books were published for the Bangabandhu Book Corners at all government primary schools in Bangladesh.
The HCD bench of Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman, in setting the writ, ruled that copyrights of historical images, photos of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Liberation War of Bangladesh can be owned by none but the state. The court also said if anyone uses historical photos of Bangabandhu and the Liberation War in publications, they must refer to the sources with acknowledgement.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s remarkable political life and activities are a matter of pride and wholly belong to the Bangali nation. The historical liberation war is an incident inextricably linked with the existence of the people of Bangladesh and gives them a spirit to carry with all their hearts. The aforementioned ruling of the court in resolving the writ petition acknowledges the sense of love and respect that this nation uniformly carries for Bangabandhu and the liberation war.