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Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Falgun 19, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 11, 1436 Hijr

Court questions legality of eight aspects of hartal, blockade
Published : Tuesday, 3 March, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 18

Staff Correspondent
The High Court on Monday issued rule questioning legality of at least eight aspects of hartal and blockades and also the government's inaction in imposing reasonable restrictions against such political programmes.
The HC bench of Justice  Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman issued the rule following a writ petition filed by four leading business organisations, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
The court in its rule firstly asked the government and the political parties to explain as to why blockades should not be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
Secondly, the HC asked the government and the political parties to explain why enforcing hartal without any prior notice within a reasonable time would not be declared illegal.
Thirdly, it asked the government to answer why it would not be directed to waive the interest of the bank loan of the four business organisations from January 6 to the date the ongoing shutdowns withdrawn.
Fourthly, the government and the political parties have been asked to explain why it should not be directed to compensate the business organisations that have suffered financial loss due to hartal and blockade.
Fifthly, it asked the parties and authorities concerned to explain why the political parties enforcing hartal and blockade should not be held responsible.
Sixthly, the HC asked the respondents to explain why directive should not be given to prevent the media from publishing, airing or telecasting the news about the announcement of blockade-hartal programmes.
Seventhly, the HC asked the respondents to explain why the aggrieved people suffering from blockade and hartal be allowed to invoke before the High Court for remedy.
The court also asked the government to explain why its inaction to impose legal restrictions on enforcement of hartal and blocaked should not be declared illegal.
Secretaries to home, law, information, Bangladesh Bank governor, the ruling Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party, Workers' Party, among others, have been made respondents to the rule. They will have to answer in four weeks.
The FBCCI along with three leading export-export oriented business bodies on Sunday moved the High Court challenging hartals and blockades which have been causing serious harm to business and economy.
The three other plaintiffs include Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Textile Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BTMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
They filed a writ petition with the HC seeking restrictions on hartal and blockade to save businesses from financial loss. They sought also the court's directives on the government to compensate the businessmen, as they suffered huge losses due to the ongoing hartal and blockade.
Earlier after hearing a petition, the same High Court bench had 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 had 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 action against those who are trying to create obstacles in holding the Secondary School Certificate examinations by enforcing hartal and blockade, the court said.
A BNP-sponsored violent street agitation since Jan 5 has cost Bangladesh over Tk 1.2 trillion in losses, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told Parliament on Feb 25.
During this time, 1,173 vehicles were torched. Businesses have been urging political parties to shun agitations that hurt the economy.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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