2018 has been significant for the apex judiciary of Bangladesh. As 2019 approaches and legal scholars dissect and analyse the verdicts laid down by both the divisions of the Apex Court, this write-up aims to highlight some of the most talked about verdicts of the year.
HCD REJECTS WRIT ON ARTICLE 70 OF THE CONSTITUTION
After a High Court Division (HCD) bench had issued a split verdict on the legality of Article 70 of the Constitution, the single bench of Justice Abu Taher finally passed the order on March, upholding the Article. The Court observed that it could not interfere with the said provision since it has been incorporated in our original Constitution of 1972. The Court further said that Article 70 is a safeguard to democracy.
BANNING 'TWO-FINGER TEST' FOR RAPE VICTIMS
The landmark verdict came in April when the HCD prohibited the 'two-finger test' carried out on rape victims to prove rape. The court also asked lawyers not to ask any such questions to rape victims, which would hurt their dignity during trial proceedings.
RAJIB'S ACCIDENT CASE
On April 23, Rajib Hossain lost his hand between two racing buses in an accident and consequently died from his injuries. Following a writ petition, the HCD ordered BRTC and Swajan Paribahan to pay compensation worth taka 10 million to his family. However, in May, the AD stayed that order and directed the HCD to form an independent and impartial committee to identify the responsible persons for this fatal accident. The AD added that Rajib's brothers would be compensated based on the report submitted by the probe committee. While the three-member committee submitted its report, a final verdict is still pending.
GUIDELINES FOR SUBORDINATE COURT JUDGES
In June 2018, the HCD released a set of guidelines for the subordinate court judges for properly dispensing with their duties. The guidelines state that Sessions Judges have to hold a judicial conference once every month to review the hurdles they face in carrying out their responsibilities and to find solutions. Moreover, the verdict also outlined how Sessions Judges should exercise their criminal revision powers and what the conduct of District and Sessions Judges should be in the months leading to their retirement.
COMPENSATION FOR ROAD ACCIDENT VICTIMS' FAMILIES
In August, the SC upheld the HCD's order on Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan to pay compensation worth taka 5 lacs to the families of the two students who were killed in a road accident on July 29 on Dhaka's airport road.
AWARDING COMPENSATION TO EYE SURGERY VICTIMS
In October, the HCD awarded compensation worth taka 1 million to each of the 17 victims who lost their eyesight following cataract surgeries at the Impact Masudul Hoque Memorial Community Health Centre, Chuadanga. It further ordered the Centre to pay for the medical bills of all 20 victims should they receive treatments in other hospitals. Moreover, Irish Company, which provided drugs during the surgeries, will have to bear 50% of the total compensation money.
MEDICAL TESTS BEFORE MARRIAGE AND GOVERNMENT JOBS
The HCD issued a rule in November, asking the concerned authorities to respond as to why blood tests before marriage and dope tests prior to entry to government jobs should not be made mandatory. While the court is yet to reach a final verdict, the rule issued is the first step towards checking whether or not would-be brides and grooms are affected with Thalassemia and whether or not people seeking entry to government jobs are drug addicts.
LANDMARK VERDICT ON MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASE
In Delwara Begum v Dr. Md. Surman Ali, the HCD ordered the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Chittagong to proceed with the case against the accused after the trial court discharged him in a case of medical negligence. In 2013, following surgery on the patient to remove piles, Dr. Ali had left a broken needle inside the body. The HCD noted in its decision that the trial court had discharged him without applying judicial mind to the materials on record. While the accused is yet to be pronounced guilty, the HCD order is indeed a stepping stone for pursuing medical negligence cases against offending medical professionals.
The writer is a contributor of Law & Our Rights, The Daily Star.