HC verdicts ignored, govt prescribes lesser punishment for reckless driving

M Moneruzzaman | Updated at 12:31am on August 07, 2018

Jail for five years prescribed in the Road Transport Bill 2018 for causing death by reckless driving, the government has ignored two verdicts of the High Court Division.
On November 20, 2014, the High Court Division in a verdict said that seven years’ jail was ‘insufficient’ for a driver causing death by reckless driving.
The observation was made by the High Court Division while striking down a martial law era ordinance stipulating three years’ to a driver involved in a fatal road accident.
In another verdict, delivered by the High Court Division on December 7, 2015 directed the government to make a law by fixing deterrent punishment for causing death by reckless driving as recommended by a committee for preparing the guideline for prevention of road accidents and traffic jams on the highways.
The committee gave its recommendation on September 19, 2011.
The court gave the verdict disposing separate public interest litigation writ petitions filed by Human Rights and Peach for Bangladesh in the backdrop of an alarming increase of innocent citizens deaths due to reckless driving by carless drivers across the country.
Petitioners’ lawyer Manzill Murshid told New Age that he handed over the copies of the verdicts to the cabinet secretary cabinet secretary Md Shafiul Alam by meeting with him at his secretariat office on Sunday.
‘I requested the cabinet secretary to tell the Prime Minister to follow the verdicts before approving the Road Transport Bill 2018,’ Manzill Murshid told New Age.
He said that the Road Transport Bill was ‘against the spirit of the High Court Division’s verdict’.
He urged MPs to take up the matter in Parliament to increase the jail term to drivers causing death by reckless driving.
He said, Australia, Pakistan, Canada and several other countries curbed reckless driving as their laws stipulate 10 years jail for the offence.
The first verdict was delivered by a bench of Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury and Justice Md Khasruzzaman while disposing of the HRPB’s PIL filed in January 2011, challenging the constitutionality of prescribing lesser punishment by the ordinance.
Section 304 (B) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, stipulated seven years jail for causing death by reckless driving.
In 1985, the jail term for the offence was reduced to three years by amending Cr PC.
In the 2nd verdict, delivered on December 7, 2015, a bench of Justice Zinat Ara and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq issued 25 directives to the government to prevent road accidents and curb traffic jams on the highways.
According to the World Health Organization estimates 20,000 people die in Bangladesh each year in road accidents and leave another 50,000 grievously injured.