HC forbids vehicle requisition except in public interest

May 24, 2010

The High Court on Sunday ordered law enforcers not to requisition private vehicles except in the public interest.
Issuing a 5-point interim directive to the government, the bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Md Delwar Hossain asked the former to explain in two weeks why Section 103A of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1976 on requisition of vehicles would not be declared illegal.
In the directives, the court asked the deputy commissioner (traffic) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to pay the owner or driver of the requisitioned vehicle the rental charge at the existing rate within a week, and compensate him for any damage caused to the vehicle.
It also asked the law enforcers not to harass the owners or drivers of the vehicles during their requisition drive and refrain from using the requisitioned vehicles for a government officer’s personal use.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s commissioner was asked to submit to the court in four days the details of the three police sergeants and the taxicab drivers whose photographs were published in Jugantar on May 14, along with a report on a clash between them that erupted while taxicabs were being requisitioned on May 13.
On May 13 the sudden requisition of taxicabs led to clashes between police and cab-drivers at Farm Gate, Manik Miah Avenue and Bijoy Sarani, in which 20 people were injured.
The court posted for June 7 the next hearing of the matter and appointed an eight-member panel of amici curiae to assist the court during the hearing. The amici curiae are Rafique-ul Huq, M Amirul Islam, Mahmudul Islam, Rokanuddin Mahmud, Ajmalul Hossain, AFM Mesbahuddin, Khandkar Mahbub Hossain and Bodruddoza Badal.
The court passed the orders after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by rights organisation Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
The petitioner’s counsel, Manzill Murshid, told the court that the police requisition motorized vehicles at their whim by enforcing Section 103A of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1976.
He cited a news report which also alleged that the police extort money from vehicle owners or drivers to spare them from requisition.
Section 103A reads, ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Police Commissioner may, by order in writing, requisition any vehicle, for a period not exceeding seven days, if such a vehicle is required in the public interest.’
‘Whenever any vehicle is requisitioned, the owner thereof shall be paid such compensation as may be prescribed,’ the Section stipulates.
Manzill argued that the Section 103A of the ordinance was arbitrary in nature and discriminatory in character and amounted to denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and was often being abused by the police to earn money.
Besides, he pointed out that the taxicab drivers were being deprived of their daily earnings due to the requisitioning of their vehicles.
‘In many cases, the drivers are forced to drive day and night without any payment, which is against the provision of the law,’ Manzill argued.

Courtesy of NewAge

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