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Malnutrition can affect people of all ages but has a heavy impact on infants. Insufficient intake of food due to several factors results in malnutrition. It is a population hazard that is common in third world countries around the globe. Despite having considerable development over the years, maternal and infant nutrition remains a persistent concern for Bangladesh. It has been observed that 36% of the preschool age children are underweight and suffer from high rates of micro nutrient deficiencies. Even though many policies have been undertaken and legal frameworks established, traditional postpartum practices are decreasing.

A child needs to be breastfed right after birth as it supplies necessary nutrients. There is an undeniable connection between the mother’s health and the child’s nutrition. Surprisingly even when it’s a traditional practice in a country like Bangladesh, the rates suggest otherwise. According to Hoque M. (2017), only 36% (35% Rural vs. 39% Urban) could initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after birth (BBS, UNICEF, 2016). Almost 2/3rd of the children in the age group below 6 months are exposed to non-breast milk items (BBS, UNICEF, 2016).[2] Hence, the fairly low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding is relatively responsible for infant malnutrition in the country.

Relation between breast milk and infant malnutrition

The World Health Organization claims the longer a mother breastfeeds, the longer the good health effects will be for both the mother and child. Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed by children in the first six months of life.[3] Breastfeeding is in many ways linked with nutrition and food security; health, development and survival. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has declared “Breastfeeding: a key to sustainable development” as its theme in 2016. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of life and continuation of breastfeeding for two years.  Breastfeeding not only benefit the child but the mother as well. The World Health Assembly of the WHO even adopted a dedicated instrument in this regard, known as The International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes 1981.

According to the recommended National Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in Bangladesh 2007, newborn babies must be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and then introduced to complementary foods. It is consistent with the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (WHO, 2002) which looked promising. But there is no implementation plan. Thus, the strategy has not led to the desired impact. The Bangladesh Government aimed to protect the children from zero to five by enacting the Breast-Milk Substitutes Act 2013 which brings significant changes to the 1984 Ordinance.

What is a Breastmilk Subsitute?

According to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes 1981, any food being marketed or otherwise presented as a partial or total replacement for breast milk, whether or not suitable for that purpose. This instrument also talks about ‘bona-fide breast milk substitutes’ which is an exception to the rule. When human milk (MOM or donor milk) isn’t available, infant formula is the third best option. The International Code calls it “weaning foods or breast-milk supplements.” However, infant formula is not risk-free. In 2007, the WHO issued guidelines for the safe use of powdered infant formula, after a number of premature babies died from infection due to contaminated formula.[4]

Related Bangladeshi legislation

The Breastmilk Subsitute Act of Bangladesh is in line with the International Code but remains silent on exceptions like bona-fide breast milk substitutes.

According to the Act, there will be no advertisement for baby foods, commercially produced supplementary baby foods and imports of its tools and no one can be engaged in these activities.

Section 4 of the 2013 Act states that no person shall print, exhibit, circulate or publish any advertisement of any breast-milk substitutes, infant foods, commercially manufactured complementary foods and any accessories thereof. Section 7 of the Act mentions that, people should be made aware of advantages of breast feeding and importance of homemade nutritious foods. Moreover, offering or proposing offers to any person such as to promote or allure the sale of these products are forbidden by the law.[5]

Breaching any section of this Act would result in an offence punishable with minimum three years imprisonment or with fine of maximum five lacs taka or both.

The Government has taken many other initiatives to curb nutrient deficiency in children. In 1989, the Government of Bangladesh passed a law making it mandatory for all edible salt to be iodized. The Iodine Deficiency Disease Prevention Act, 1989 and Rules, 1994. However, not many complied with the Act. BLAST filed a writ in 1999 challenging 8 salt manufacturers whose salt did not contain the required level of iodine. (BLAST and another vs. Bangladesh and others [‘Iodized Salt’ Case] Writ Petition No. 1043 of 1999). According to UNICEF, 84% of all edible salt is now iodized, helping reduce iodine deficiency disorders.[6]

Previously, the National Food Policy of 2006 laid down few objectives that talk about adequate nutrition for women and children. Later the National Children Policy 2011 put greater emphasis on the same issue. In Clause 6.2, it states that Nutrition of the child shall be given priority for the poverty alleviation of the children. The 2011 policy ensures safe birth and overall growth of children. Clause 6.1.4 states that the employment authority of a working mother shall have to arrange day care center for lactating and working mothers so that can breast feed child.

More recently the National Nutrition Policy 2015 gave further importance in ensuring appropriate nutrition through identification of different causes. Some of its suggested indicators are Increase the initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour of life. Among its recommendations there are, to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in infants younger than age 6 months, to reduce maternal overweight (BMl>23), to reduce the rate of low birth weight etc.

In addition to the above laws, the Labour Act of 2006 allows indirect breastfeeding breaks for mothers at workplace. Section 94 of the Act talks states ‘rooms for children’ at workplace. Employers at establishments with forty or more workers must provide and maintain a suitable room or rooms for the use of children under the age of 6 and their mothers.

It has been submitted that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer and promotes emotional health. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of depression. It contributes to a child’s growth and supplies the necessary antibodies and provides ideal nutrition for babies.

The Government led initiatives are in abundance with many new laws waiting to be enacted. But without proper implementation, they would just remain inside age old documents. The existing policies must be executed in order to eradicate malnutrition completely. The IYCF indicators are not adequately represented and the health workers have not been properly trained. Breast milk substitutes are still on sale despite the presence of the 2013 Act.

The traditional practice of breastfeeding must be encouraged. However, one cannot disregard the possibility of lack of breast milk due to many factors. The need for formula feeding can be life saving in such situations. This, however, has been overlooked by the much talked about Act of 2013.

Although 2013 Act deserves appreciation due to its indirect attempt to promote breastfeeding, it must be relaxed in special circumstances. Doctors must be fully aware about the rules and comply accordingly. Collective efforts like these would reduce the need for enacting new laws and benefit the society as a whole.

[1] Apprentice Advocate of Dhaka Judge Court

[2] Hoque M (2017), ‘Critical Issues in Child and Maternal Nutrition’, BIDS Critical Conversations 2017

[3] Mazumdar S (2016) ‘There is no substitute’, The Daily Star

[4] Spangler A (2012), ‘Can’t breastfeed? Formula isn’t your only option’, Howtolearn.com

[5] Dr. Anju S (2016) ‘Code of marketing of the breast milk substitutes’, The Daily Star

[6] Child and Maternal Nutrition in Bangladesh, UNICEF Report

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The Bangla language movement of 1952 is a powerful instance of one’s love and devotion towards their mother tongue. It showed how certain rights we get from birth may require a heavy price to achieve. UNESCO declared the day as International Mother Language Day to commemorate the language martyrs. And as Bangladeshis, not being aware of it is next to ungratefulness.

Growing up in Dhaka and studying in an english medium school in the 90s, it wasn’t unfamiliar knowing so much about such events. Besides teaching English, our teachers and parents made it sure to instill Bengali culture in our lives. Every year on the dawn of 21st February, I used to accompany my parents and walked barefoot to the Shaheed Minar.

But sadly, many of us who are now parents, have chosen to not introduce their children to bengali cultures or language. They want their children to be proficient in English and adopt a more western approach in their lifestyles. And I am not talking about expatriates. This is getting common specially among few ‘urban’ parents living in Dhaka. There are various reasons behind it.

The first word most Bangladeshis get to learn for the first time is ‘Maa’ or ‘Baba’. While both of these two words are Bangla, parents of today deliberately replace them with ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. They prefer English as their child’s first language. It is frustrating to know that these kids would grow up to become total ignorant to their culture or language. And their parents take pride in knowing that their children have lost their linguistic intelligence.

One of the major reasons is preparing their kids for an international environment. Most Bangladeshi parents want their child to complete their studies at a good university abroad. They want their child to do good in school and be ‘smart’ academically. The child experiences his/her foundation language being taken away at a very young age. They would find it hard to communicate with people outside their sphere. Therefore at one point in their lives, they are left feeling excluded and cannot fit right in.

According to a reputed speech-language pathologist Ana Paula G. Mumy, ‘To put a halt on the native language will only hurt the child’s language growth, and long-term negative effects will be inevitable.”

In her research, she emphasizes on how being able to communicate in the native language adds up to the overall development of a child. She says ‘I reiterate that children must be able to function/communicate effectively in their homes before they can function/communicate out in the community, so the native language cannot be stripped away, even for children with language delays.’  [Multilingual Living, 2013]

In the age of smartphones, tablets and youtube, children spend their leisure time online. They are more interested in staring at the screen than playing with toys. From games, movies to youtube videos, everything is in English. Toddlers and pre schoolers mostly pick up English words from interactive youtube videos.

Even when there are plenty of bangla videos of the same kind, parents would still opt to provide their child with english ones. I am not against children learning English but this mindset needs to change. Parents should strengthen their child’s foundation language first, then move on master a second one.

According to James Cummins, professor emeritus at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, “Besides individual children losing their potential for bilingualism and their ability to communicate with their grandparents who might not know English.” [ Arpita Bhandari, CBC ]

Such acts not only curtail the birth right of a person but restricts his/her overall development. Parents must be aware that it may come back at them someday. Learning the mother tongue is a great way of communicating. This beautiful language Bangla was bought with bloodshed and today we have taken it for granted.

If we don’t uphold its significance, the upcoming generation will hardly feel the need to do so. Parents must come together and let their child grow uninterrupted.
Teaching your child his/her native language is a charity and charity begins at home.

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As Elon Musk sends his Tesla to the space, it’s time we acknowledge the infinite possibilities of our time. With a view to familiarize with the idea of commercial space exploration, a private company, spaceX has gained worldwide attention. Now that space travel is about to be privatized, International Space Law has become more important than it ever was. Ever since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, questions regarding the legal jurisdiction of space have surfaced. The Space Age started with competitive nations rushing for the moon, one after another. That was when the United Nations recognized the need for a guideline to maintain peace.

The very first UN body concerned with space was the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOUS). It was made permanent in 1959. With UNCOPUOS established as a permanent body, the international government and law making process had begun. The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, otherwise known as the ‘Outer Space Treaty’ was signed and enacted in 1967.

Till date it has 105 state parties and 89 signatory states including Bangladesh. Bangladesh has acceded to the treaty, meaning that it had signified the agreement to be legally bound by its terms. The Outer Space Treaty has laid a formal framework for nations regarding peaceful exploration of the space.

The treaty has several major points to it. Some of the principal ones are:

  • Space is free for all nations to explore, and sovereign claims cannot be made. Space activities must be for the benefit of all nations and humans.
  • Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are not allowed in Earth orbit, on celestial bodies or in other outer-space locations.
  • Individual nations (states) are responsible for any damage their space objects cause. Individual nations are also responsible for all governmental and nongovernmental activities conducted by their citizens. These states must also “avoid harmful contamination” due to space activities.[1]

The 1967 Treaty made it official that the outer space is for everyone and anyone can explore it. This allows private sector to step right in and explore its possibilities. It also recommends that the moon and other celestial bodies would be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. It is much like the provision of High Seas in the UNCLOS Treaty of the 1982 which governs the law of the sea. Similarly, the Outer Space Treaty was enacted to legalize space exploration but for the benefit of the mankind as a whole.

The Outer Space Treaty and the other UN resolutions that followed have been successful in maintaining peace. But as we step into an era where commercial spaceflight is becoming a reality, challenges are coming our way. Privatized space travel will raise many complicated legal issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration of America is already in the process of establishing licensing and safety criteria for private spacecraft, a process that will continue to evolve as the industry matures. Space companies, legislatures and courts will need to address questions of liability in the event of accidents, the enforceability of liability waivers, insurance requirements, and the sufficiency of informed consent for passengers. Indeed, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia have already passed laws limiting the liability of space tourism providers under state tort law.[2]

In 2015, the American Senate passed the bill ‘H.R. 2262’ also known as the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The bill is entitled, ‘An Act to facilitate a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space industry by encouraging private sector investment and creating more stable and predictable regulatory conditions, and for other purposes.’ Under one provision of H.R. 2262 commercial companies get the rights to any resources that they collect from celestial bodies.[3]

As new avenues of space expedition opens up, existing laws must make room for them. Privatization is necessary for creating better opportunities. Therefore, privatizing space travel would not only allow easier access to outer space but introduce other countries to this sector. Developing countries like Bangladesh must not be left behind and encouraged to participate. Bangladesh is an emerging ICT hub and one such milestone is the expected launch of Bangabandhu Satellite. It is high time for its Government to invest or encourage private entities towards space travel.

[1] Howell E, ‘Who owns the moon?| Space Law and Outer Space Treaties’ , Space.com [published on Oct 27, ’17, available on https://www.space.com/33440-space-law.html%5D

[2] Kleiman M., ‘Space Law 101: An Introduction to Space Law’, American Bar Association [available on https://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/publications/the_101_201_practice_series/space_law_101_an_introduction_to_space_law.html%5D

[3] Grush L, ‘Private space companies avoid FAA oversight again, with Congress’ blessing‘, The Verge [published on Nov 16, 2015, available on https://www.theverge.com/2015/11/16/9744298/private-space-government-regulation-spacex-asteroid-mining%5D

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Restorative Justice (RJ) is a theory that sees beyond the traditional sentencing method of a criminal justice system. It seeks to repair the harm rather than just imposing punishment to the offender of a crime. Under this process, the offender and the victim are brought together to discuss their problems. It allows the victim to convey their emotions and sufferings to the offender face to face. But A practice like this is unconventional in Bangladesh. Under its current judicial setting, there is little or no room for recognizing this victim-offender relationship. With the rise of pending cases and overflowing jails, it is high time that RJs capability is acknowledged.

Restorative Justice can be considered as an Alternative Dispute Resolution which may decrease piling up of pending cases. Backlog of cases is the biggest obstacle in our judicial system. Around 2.3 million cases are pending with the courts across the country including the Appellate Division and High Court Division of the Supreme Court (SC), causing immeasurable suffering to the litigants. Now, the number of total pending case lying with the High Court division till March 31, 2016 were 3,99,303 (BSS, June 16, 2016). This could have been avoided if restorative justice processes were being implemented in the country.

It will be wrong to deny the existence of RJ in Bangladesh. In the Magistrate Courts of the 1st class, many honorable magistrates have been observed to apply RJ in small steps. As an apprentice advocate, I have seen this happen many times. Usually in cases where the offender has physically hurt the victim, the magistrate asks the victim if he wants to forgive the offender. The offender at times is ordered by the judge to seek forgiveness out loud for the whole court to listen. In other times, the Magistrate calls both the victim and the offender to his private chamber to mediate between them. If the victim forgives, then the case is dismissed.
In the countryside, RJ is prevalent in the form of village courts. The country has a long history of informal dispute resolution through the shalish or the village court (Khan and Rahman, 2009).  Since 2010, more than 32,000 cases have been reported to village courts across Bangladesh. Almost 25,000 cases have been resolved.
The concept of Restorative Justice is simple. It operates in four stages, namely inclusion, encountering, making amends and reintegration. With inclusion, interested parties are invited to participate and encouraged to accept new approaches. At the encountering stage, few programs are initiated e.g., the Victim Offender Mediation (VOM), conferencing or circles. This allows victims or their family members to discuss the crime with the offender about the aftermath of the crime and how it can be fixed. The entire process will hopefully allow the victim to return to pre-harm condition, and the offender will seek out ways to re-enter the community through participation with tolerant groups in the community.

If our traditional criminal justice system is concerned, when a crime is committed, the offender is sentenced to a certain term in prison. On the other hand, the victim, although served justice, is left with a scar that they bear for a long time. The victim of a grave offence, for the rest of his/her life, is burdened with the regret, what if I could let it all out on the person who did this to me! Just knowing that their offender is in the jail sometimes is not enough. It is when letting the offender know what impact has the offence done to the victim, would end their suffering. Here, RJ comes into play. Most of the time, the offender walks out of an RJ session regretting his/her actions as he listens to the sufferings of his/her victims. 

Justice is truly served at the contentment of the crime victim. Although it is not possible to completely remove the pain of the sufferer, RJ can ease it by letting their voice be heard. While the village courts in Bangladesh are trying, it is up to every judge to make way for RJ in our judicial system. Apart from punitive measures, the victim and offender must meet face to face in order to prevent repetition of such offences. Hence, to create an impact and make justice readily available, our legal framework must formally introduce Restorative Justice in the system.

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It is of no doubt that some members of the Bangladesh Police are multi talented. Besides catching criminals, they are expert magicians. In the name of search, they demonstrate their skills by making pouches of yaba tablets appear out of nowhere in their suspects’ pockets. And for ‘volunteering’ such public display, these magicians pick people of all class, even if they aren’t willing to participate.

One swish with their baton like wand and “AbraCaDabra, Look I found the Yaba!”.

Apart from the humor, reports of the police allegedly planting yaba pills in pockets are on the rise. Constables and even Sub inspectors have been reported to harass innocent pedestrians on false allegation of carrying yaba tablets. Fearing social humiliation, they pay a heavy price to dismiss the case for good, while giving these conmen a faster income source.

This method has become a common phenomenon in Bangladesh in recent times. It is definitely a form of police brutality and a sheer abuse of power. It raises concern about human rights situation in the country. An individual falls into the trap laid down by some mischievous persons in power. Just like a magic show, these tricksters are acquainted by an unsuspecting source. He does all the work of putting things here and there. As he gets his job done, a final move is initiated by the authoritative officer.

Such practice has been rampant particularly in metropolitan areas. This is due to the recent rise in smuggled yaba entering the country. More than 10 cases of false allegations have been reported in 2016 alone. Few of these reports from the leading dailies have been mentioned in the following.

On the 31st January 2016, a female student was sexually harassed and alleged to carry 200 yaba pills. This was after she was brought down from her rickshaw by the SI of Mohammadpur area and taken to a shop in the name of search. According to the woman, the policemen searched her bag for an hour and asked her to take off her jacket with indecent language. The SI was later suspended.[1]

In February of the same year, a Barisal police official was suspended for extortion and harassing two businessman. The sub-inspector forcefully took the persons to a hotel in Natun Bazar bus terminal area and demanded Tk 50,000 from them, according to a complaint by the businessmen. Later, the SI put Yaba tablets into one of the persons’ pocket and threatened to arrest them if they do not give him the sum, the businessmen alleged.[2]

In the late October of 2016, a sub inspector of Chowgacha Police Station kept the pills via a source at a store owned by Mr. Rabon Kumar. The pills were found by the SI after the source came out. After other traders in the market stood up for Rabon, the SI and his source fled the scene.[3]

On December 2016, two Chittagong Metropolitan Police constables were closed for deliberately putting yaba pills in a journalist’s pocket. Mr. Mostafa was brought down from his bus and taken to the police box. He alleged that the constable tried to trap him when he found nothing searching his pocket. [4]

This year, three incidents of similar pattern took place in Jessore. On 11th June, one SI got into trouble as tried to slide in a packet of opium into a young man’s pocket in the Baily Road area. On 15th June, an SI of the Kotwali Police Station of Benapole was closed for trying to make a college teacher accused in drug case. A source of the SI tried to arrest the teacher after inserting some Yaba pills into his pocket, triggering a chaos.[5]

Two days after this incident, a police constable of Jessore faced mob beating for allegedly putting yaba in one Pikul’s pocket. In the way of conversation, the constable tried to put 3-4 pieces of Yaba tablets wrapped in a polythene packet into Pikul’s pocket. Upon Pikul’s screaming, mobs gathered and punched police constable as they found Yaba tablets in his hand.[6]

Incidents like this are rampant in Dhaka city. On June 27th this year, a journalist named Ashik was stopped by a patrol and put on a police van. He was beaten and told he’d be set free if he paid Tk. 100,000. After the journalist said he could only pay Tk. 5,000, the police charged him with possession of yaba, according to a report of bdnews24.[7]

What does the law say and what can be done?

The abovementioned cases are the ones that were reported. Many of them go unnoticed, due to the victim being compelled to pay huge amounts to shut down the case. This is because they receive threats of getting charged under Section 19 (9a) of the Narcotics Act 1990 which means at least 6 months jail time.

It can be observed that in almost all of these reported incidents, the stop and search took place away from the public, behind police vans or dark alleys. Whereas section 280 (a) of the Police Regulations, Bengal (PRB) 1943 requires that searches be made in a way such that the eyewitnesses to the whole search and must be able to see clearly where each article is found. ‘They should then sign the search list (B.P. Form No. 44).’

Clause (h) of Section 280 states that ’Care should be taken that the witnesses are, so far as possible, unconnected with any of the parties concerned or with the police, so that they may be regarded as quite independent.’ However, not surprisingly, the witnesses in real life are the other policemen who were present at the scene. The PRB strongly recommends that the searches be made with regard to the law contained in Chapter VII and sections 102, 103, 163 and 166 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Crpc) 1898.

Section 103 of the Crpc requires that the search to be made in presence of a witness. The officer about to make the search shall call upon two or more respectable inhabitants of the locality. The search shall be made in their presence and a list of all things seized in the course of such search shall be prepared by the officer. It shall be signed by the witnesses.

Once a victim is picked up, it is their family who suffer the most. Usually such policemen threaten to charge a liability under s.19 of the Narcotics Act 1990 concerning the victim unless he/she gives him money. The policeman thus induces the victim’s family to pay the sum. Therefore, the families resort to paying huge amounts of cash to get their son or daughter released.

Note that Section 163 (1) of the Crpc states that no police officer shall offer or make any such inducement or threat as mentioned in Section 24 of the Evidence Act 1872. Section 24 of the said Act states a confession of an accused person shall be irrelevant if it was made by inducement or threat.

This also attracts the offence of Extortion defined in section 383 of the Penal Code 1860. This section states that whoever puts another person in fear and dishonestly induces to handover property or valuable security, commits extortion.  Section 384 states that whoever commits extortion shall be punished with an imprisonment of three years of either description or fine, or both.

Since the seizure list contain the items recovered and pouches of yaba are exhibited in the court, victims face immediate imprisonment.  However, Section 196 of the Penal Code 1860 states ‘Whoever corruptly uses or attempts to use as true or genuine evidence, any evidence which he knows to be false or fabricated, shall be punished in the same manner as if he gave or fabricated false evidence.’

As mentioned before, the BP Form No. 44 or the seizure list is mostly signed by policemen. So, there is no way the actual truth can be unearthed. This creates a possibility of falsifying the report to imprison the victim. Here Section 219 of the Penal Code 1860 states ‘Whoever, being a public servant, corruptly or maliciously makes or pronounces in any stage of a Judicial proceeding, any report, order, verdict, or decision which he knows to be contrary to law, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

Knowing your rights and acting upon it can save your reputation and time. If you are truly innocent and want to establish that the allegation made was false, you can claim it under the Penal Code. Section 211 of the Penal Code 1860 talks about false charge of offence made with intent to injure.

This section states ‘Whoever, with intent to cause injury to any person, institutes or causes to be instituted any criminal proceeding against that person, or falsely charges any person with having committed an offence, knowing that there is no just or lawful ground for such proceeding or charge against that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.’

The funny thing about such allegations made is that the ‘criminal’ and his crime do not correspond. How can someone expect a professor of a reputed university to carry 1-2 pieces of Yaba in his/her pocket? Will a service holder do the same? The general disposition of a person and his background must go with his/her activities.

A person having a social stand and reputation is not expected to do something that might ruin it. Hence, such allegations made by the police fall flat infront of logic. A reasonable man having a sound sense of judgment would refuse to believe them. A false conviction may leave anyone with a permanent scar. They get labeled, called names and face immediate social alienation. That too for not committing any crime.

There is a slogan popular among us that ‘Police Jonogoner Bondhu’ (the police are a friend of the citizens). But how is harassing an innocent citizen a friendly attitude? Their role is to protect the law not defying it. They should leave the magic tricks to the ones who genuinely know how to do so. It cannot be denied that the Bangladesh Police over the years has contributed effectively in minimizing crimes. Therefore the entire police force does not deserve to be vicariously blamed for the actions of a few. The trust must not break. The black sheep must be identified and strictly punished for giving other policemen a bad name.

[1] The Independent (2016), ‘Adabor Police SI harassed female student’ [published on 11th February 2016, available on http://www.theindependentbd.com/arcprint/details/33604/2016-02-11%5D

[2] The Daily Star (2016), ‘Barisal City Cop suspended for extortion’ [published on 3rd February 2016, available on http://www.thedailystar.net/country/barisal-city-cop-suspended-‘extortion’-211861%5D

[3] Dhaka Tribune {2016), ‘Police SI lays yaba trap but flees after mob beating’ [published on 26th Oct. 2016, available on http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/10/27/police-si-lays-yaba-trap-flees-mob-beating/%5D

[4] Daily Sun newspaper (2016), ‘Two Cops closed for harassing journalist’, [published on 7th Dec. 2016, available on http://www.daily-sun.com/arcprint/details/190053/Two-cops-closed-for-harassingjournalist/2016-12-07%5D

[5] Ntv Online (2017) ‘Cops closed for putting Yaba pills into teacher’s pocket’ [published on 16th June 2017, available on http://en.ntvbd.com/bangladesh/59543/Cops-closed-for-putting-Yaba-pills-into-teacher’s-pocket%5D

[6] Bangla News 24 (2017) ‘Police Constable lynched in Jessore’ [published on 18th June, available on http://www.banglanews24.com/english/national/article/61758/Police-constable-lynched-in-Jessore]

[7] bdnews24.com (2017), ‘Journalists demonstrate over photojournalist’s arrest for yaba possession’ [published on 8th July 2017, available on https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2017/07/08/journalists-demonstrate-over-photojournalists-arrest-for-yaba-possession%5D

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The Law of Tort which derives from the French word meaning ‘wrong’ has a very theoretical presence in Bangladesh. It is an old legal concept where the courts provide remedy in response to a civil wrong. In the English Legal System, it developed through ‘forms of action’ and Writs which were brought to the courts. Much of these claims were injuries due to negligence, a liability that covers most of tort law. A person can be held liable for causing injury or death to another as a result of his negligence. This includes road accidents due to negligent driving and liabilities therein.

Unlike its neighbors, claims regarding compensation for negligence are unfamiliar in Bangladesh. Therefore, most compensation claims go unsought. Victims of road accidents remain unaware of their legal rights. But with the rise of unfavorable events, the law is adapting itself to make room for claims regarding compensation for negligence. This leads to one question, “could this be the much needed evolution of our legal system?”

On 3rd December 2017, High Court (HC) ordered the concerned authorities to pay Tk 4.61 crore as compensation to the family of the renowned filmmaker Tareque Masud, who died in a fatal car crash in 2011. The order was passed by the HC bench of Justice Zinat Ara and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo. Following the order, driver Jamir Uddin has to give Tk 30 lakh, the company, which insured the bus, has to give Tk 80,000 and owners of the vehicle has to give the rest of the money in three months after receiving the full judgment of the HC.[1]

The Bangladeshi filmmaker along with his companions was killed in a road crash in 2011. The microbus carrying the team to Manikganj town collided head-on with a bus on the Dhaka-Aricha highway killing the filmmaker instantly. In February 2017, a Manikganj court has ordered life in prison under S.304 of Bangladesh Penal Code for the man who was driving the bus [2]

Earlier, in the case of Bangladesh Beverage Industries Ltd. Vs. Rowshan Akhter and others, 2010, 39 CLC (HCD), the High Court order a compensation of Tk 20 Million to the family members of the victim of a road accident. It was initially filed as a money suit in 1991 under the Fatal Accidents Act 1885 in an ordinary civil court.[3] But the Tareque Masud case has rekindled the hopes of road accident victims. It is expected victims of road crash may step forward to see their claims being heard.

Road Accidents in Bangladesh

Road Accidents are a routine occurrence in Bangladeshi highways. Bangladesh Police reports 1489 accidents which resulted in 1422 deaths and 1289 injuries in the year 2016 alone.[4]  In the Statistical Yearbook 2000 of the Bangladesh Bureau of statistics (BBS), the total number of the accidents took place during 1987 to 2000 is 1521 in 1987 to 3419 in 2000.[5]

The prime factors behind such accidents are over speeding, overloading, overtaking or unfit vehicles. The use of mobile phones while driving also plays a contributory role. Most highways in the country stretch right in the middle of two villages, with markets on both the sides. Most of the casualties occur when a person crosses a highway to go to the other side.

Such victims and the family of the deceased victims should get monetary compensation to cover the economic loss sustained by them. The compensation to such victims of road accidents caused by negligence and recklessness of the drivers shall be paid from the proposed victim’s compensation fund and the money so paid shall subsequently be recovered by the Government from the owners of the vehicles by starting legal process.[6]

What does the law say about compensation?

S.1 of the Fatal Accidents Act 1855 provides for compensation to the family of a person for loss occasioned to it by his death by actionable wrong. According to this section, whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would (if death had not ensued) have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages. It also mentions that every such action or suit shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child.

S.128 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983 provides for application for compensation. According to the section, an application for compensation arising out of an accident mentioned in s.127 may be made by (a) by the person who has sustained injury or whose property has been damaged, (b) where the death has resulted from the accident, by all of or any of the legal heirs of the deceased; or (c) by any agent duly authorized by the person injured or by all or any of the legal heirs of the deceased, as the case may be. The section also requires filing of the application within 6 months of the date of occurrence.

Principle of Duty of Care

The prime element of negligence is establishing the duty of care. This becomes complicated particularly in case of road accidents. For example, question arises whether the bus driver has a responsibility towards his passengers? Or can a car driver be held liable for injury caused by his driving? S. 104 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinace 1983 recognizes the duty of a driver in case of an accident and injury to a person. S.304B of the Penal Code has prescribed a maximum punishment of three years imprisonment or fine or both for an offence of causing death of any person by rash or negligent driving of any vehicle and that the offence is a bailable one. One of the landmark English cases in establishing duty of care is Donoghue v Stevenson. Here, Lord Atkin introduced the neighbor principle. Its immediate importance was to impose a duty on manufacturers in respect of the production of certain types of goods.[7]

In the case of Clark v London General Omnibus Company Limited [1906] 2 KB 648, the plaintiff’s daughter was killed as a result of an accident with one of the defendant’s omnibuses. At trial the plaintiff recovered from, amongst other things, the cost of burying his unmarried daughter. The court of appeal allowed the appeal against this head of damage both under Lord Campbell’s Act (the predecessor of the current Fatal Accidents Act) and at common law. [8]

The High Court Division in the Tareque Masud case has proven its adaptability with changing circumstances. Since we do not have an expressly written law of tort, it will from time to time develop holding the hands of eminent judges through such decisions. The National Road Safety Council (NRSC), the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) or the Accident Research Institute (ARI), BUET are constantly trying to maintain safe roads. Now that the rights of road crash victims are upheld, that day is not far when Tort Law would have its independent existence in our legal system.

[1] Star Online Report , ‘Compensate Tk 4.61cr to Tareque Masud’s family, HC tells authorities’, The Daily Star [published on 3rd December 2017, available on http://www.thedailystar.net/country/compensate-taka-4cr-to-tareque-masuds-family-bangladesh-high-court-tells-authorities-1499533%5D[2] Bdnews24.com, ‘Bus driver gets life in prison in case over deaths of Tareque Masud, Mishuk Munier’ [published on 22nd Feb ’17, available on https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2017/02/22/bus-driver-gets-life-in-prison-in-case-over-deaths-of-tareque-masud-mishuk-munier%5D

[3] Amitava Kar (2014), ‘ Putting a price on the priceless’, The Daily Star [available on http://www.thedailystar.net/putting-a-price-on-the-priceless-15230%5D

[4] BRTA Road Accident and casualties Statistics (Years 2009-2016), [available on http://www.brta.gov.bd/newsite/en/statistics-of-accident-casualties/%5D

[5] Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. (2002). Statistical yearbook of Bangladesh 2000 (21st ed.). Dhaka: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

[6] Law Commission- Bangladesh, ‘Final Report on a proposed law relating to payment of compensation and other reliefs to the crime victims’ [published on 15.02.2017, available on http://www.lawcommissionbangladesh.org/reports/75.pdf%5D

[7] Lunney M, Oliphant K (2010), ‘TORT LAW- Text and Materials’, 5th Edition, OUP

[8] Lunney M, Oliphant K (2010), ‘TORT LAW- Text and Materials’, 5th Edition, OUP

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