THE executive branch of the state appears to have resolved to ignore court orders that the judiciary issued suo moto in the greater public interest while the judiciary, both the High Court Division and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, appears indifferent towards taking punitive action by way of charging the government for contempt of courts. The practice might prove dangerous if the phenomenon continues uninterrupted for long.
In the democratic tradition of judicial activism done by the higher judiciary, the country’s higher courts had issued quite a good number of orders suo moto for the government to comply with in public interest over the past few years, a few examples being, as reported by New Age on Friday, the High Court rule of 2015 directing the government to keep unfit motor vehicles off the roads and seize as many as 18.77 lakh fake driving licences, the High Court rule of 2014 asking the government not to allow VIPs and VVIPs to drive on the wrong sides of the road, the High Court rule of 2009 asking the government to stop extrajudicial murders of the crime suspects and the Appellate Division order asking the government authorities concerned to demolish the unauthorised 15-storey BGMEA building on a lake in the capital Dhaka. In all the cases in question, the government has either completely ignored the court orders or partly complied with them as eyewash, but the courts concerned have not punished the government authorities for the failure to comply properly. The result is obvious: the purpose of the judicial activism by the judiciary is defeated while the executive’s sense of impunity vis-à-vis its accountability to the judiciary is further boost up. Dangerous.
The New Age report suggests that the judiciary does not have any logistic support to monitor and follow up on the fate of the rules it issued suo moto in public interest. This is, indeed, a practical problem. In order to solve the problem, the chief justice may think of setting up a competent committee, composed of the representatives of both the bench and the bar, to monitor and report the progress, or lack of it, of the implementation of the orders issued suo moto and report to the courts concerned in time. The proposed committee might also be allocated a budget for maintaining a small staff necessary to do the job. This is, in our view, important to make sure that the orders issued by the country’s highest court are being duly honoured and public interest served by the executive wing of the state. The balance of power between different branches of the state, after all, is an essential component of democratic governance.
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