The High Court on Sunday directed the government to take necessary steps to stop ongoing violence, anarchy and subversive activities in the name of hartal and blockade.
Upon hearing two separate writ petitions, the HC also asked the government to explain why these killings, arsons, violence and anarchy being unleashed in the name of hartal and blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance should not be declared unlawful and contrary to the Constitution of the country.
The HC also issued a separate rule asking the government to explain as to why BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and its alliance leaders would not be directed to provide compensations to victims of hartal and blockade programmes.
The Court also ordered government to take steps to hold SSC examinations and keep educational institutions open amid political programmes like shutdown and blockade. It instructed authorities to adopt 'serious measures' against those who would come in the way to do so.
The state functionary must take effective actions against those who are trying to create obstacles to holding the Secondary School Certificate examinations by enforcing hartal and blockade, the court said.
The HC bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman came up with the orders. The bench also issued another rule, seeking government explanation on why political activities, which are detrimental to the education, should not be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
About 162 people have been made respondents to the rules. Secretaries for Home, Law, Education, Foreign Ministries, IGP, DG RAB, DG BGB, all divisional Police Commissioners, DCs and SPs of all the districts, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Bikalpa Dhara president B Chowdhury, LDP leader Oli Ahmed, Major General Ibrahim(Retd), were among the respondents.
The directives came on the 41st day of blockade enforced by BNP-led 20-party alliance that has so far claimed at least 80 lives, mostly in arson attacks. The alliance has also observed seven series of hartal amid the ongoing blockade.
Shafiul Azam Khan Barku, chairman of the managing committee of Ispahani School in Keraniganj, and Shahinur Rahman Shahin, a businessman from the same area filed the writ petitions. Barrister M Amir-Ul Islam, advocates Yusuf Hossain Humayun, Abdul Baset Majumder, Abdul Matin Khasru and Sahara Khatun moved for the writs before the court.
The HC in its rule asked the respondents to explain as to why calling hartal on January 5 and continuing it till now, calling hartal, blockade during the SSC examinations shall not be declared illegal.
The court asked them to explain as to why hartal and blockade programmes during the ongoing SSC and its equivalent examinations should not be declared illegal and why the government should not be directed to take necessary steps in this regard.
The directives came on the first day of the fresh 72-hour hartal called by the BNP-led 20-party alliance alongside an indefinite transport blockade. Arson attacks on highways have disrupted goods transportation affecting the export-oriented sectors.
Businesses have been demanding that violent political agitations be outlawed to save the economy. The ruling Awami League has said they were considering a law banning general strikes and blockades if the people wanted it.
Suranjit Sengupta, Chairman of the Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, said the government was considering a law with provisions for capital punishment to troublemakers to curb political violence.
Earlier this month, apex trade body FBCCI claimed the BNP-sponsored violence had cost the economy at least Tk 750 billion.
There have been calls from the international community, including the US, the UK and the United Nations to Bangladesh political parties to show patience and refrain from violence.