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14 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Exec magistrates abusing power in mobile courts

High Court observes
STAFF REPORTER
Exec magistrates abusing power in mobile courts

A High Court bench yesterday observed that executive magistrates are abusing their power by running ‘mobile courts’ from their offices instead of visiting the scene of incident, as they should. The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah made the observation while hearing another case on the abuse of power by means of a mobile court.

The case was about the three-month imprisonment of a former civil surgeon of Laxmipur, Dr Salahuddin Sharif, by the Sadar upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) on the charge of assaulting the additional deputy commissioner (ADC) of Laxmipur. The order was delivered at a mobile court.

The court exempted ADC Sheikh Morshedul Islam and UNO Kamruzzaman from a rule issued by it against them after they sought unconditional apology. But, the bench directed the authorities to not post the duo in places where they can abuse their power.

“We ask the secretaries of law, public administration, and home to not post them in places where they can get the opportunity to abuse their power,” the HC bench said.

On December 5, the High Court had summoned the duo to appear before it at 10.30 am on December 13 and explain the three-month imprisonment of a former civil surgeon of the district for allegedly assaulting the ADC. The court gave the order following a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Kamal Hossain Niazi and Ashfaqur Rahman. It also issued a rule asking the authorities to explain why the misuse of the mobile court out of personal grudge should not be declared illegal.

On December 4, Dr Sharif was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by a mobile court led by Kamruzzaman for allegedly assaulting Sheikh Morshedul.

The matter had started from a brawl near a kindergarten school. The two guardians, Dr Sharif and Sheikh Morshedul, had been locked in a scuffle over who would get in first through the narrow school entrance.

Dr Sharif was arrested, but a Laxmipur court granted him bail on a bond of Tk. 5,000. In its order yesterday, the HC bench also asked him to behave wisely.

Though our social conditions make mobile courts necessary, they are sometimes used in abuse of power, which is not acceptable, the court observed.

In some cases, it seems that the executive magistrates are running the mobile courts to protect their own interests and to flaunt their power, in violation of the law. In a civilized country, it is unthinkable for a government officer to abuse power in this manner, the court added.

Rights activists have been protesting against the mobile courts run by executive magistrates since 2007. The mobile court ordinance was promulgated in that year during the regime of the Army-backed caretaker government.

On October 4, 2009, the incumbent government passed the Mobile Court Bill to enact an earlier ordinance allowing metropolitan and district magistrates to resume the operations of mobile courts. The new legislation authorized executive magistrates to punish offenders on the spot, awarding a maximum sentence of two years for offences under 85 different laws.

On November 10, 2010, mobile courts in Bangladesh were empowered to prosecute people accused of sexually harassing women. Now, mobile courts are empowered to use Section 186 of the Penal Code to hand out punishments, sources said.

On May 11 this year, after hearing three separate writ petitions, the HC had declared as illegal and unconstitutional the operation of mobile courts by executive magistrates.

The HC annulled all past decisions and sentences delivered by such courts, except for those which have already been challenged.

In its verdict, the HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das had observed that at least 11 sections of the Mobile Court Act 2009 are in conflict with the Constitution. These 11 sections also go against the basic structure of the judiciary in terms of its independence and the decentralization of powers, the verdict said.

On May 14, the Supreme Court stayed the HC order for three days. Later, it extended its stay order from time to time following petitions made by the government.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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