Senior Supreme Court lawyer Md Munsurul Hoque Chowdhury, also former High Court Division judge, said that there was no legal basis for providing privileges to the very important persons, popularly known as VIPs.
But under the VIP culture, which began in the country with the officials from the top level of the state enjoying a certain undue privileges, is nothing short of a form of misuse of power at various stages, he said.
He argued that there was no special privilege for the movement the VIPs, according to the traffic rules.
He said that wrong-lane drive of vehicles carrying VIPs was a violation of law and the government should take stern action against them to ensure that discipline returned on the streets.
He said that laws must be obeyed equally by every citizen of the country, including the VIPs.
There was discrimination on the road and it was inherently inhuman when the police cleared a single column of traffic at a crossing to let a VIP pass while traffic on the other lanes remained stalled at the signal, he observed.
This was unfair to the general commuters since all commuters have equal right while out on the streets and needed to reach their respective destination on time, he added.
He said that traffic system should be digitalised so that police would not be able to manipulate traffic signals.
There was no scope for creating discrimination among the citizens by treating a particular class of persons as VIPs, since ‘all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of law under Article 27 of the Constitution’, he argued.
He, however, said that there was a warrant of precedence in which the functionaries, dignitaries and officials are listed according to their rank and office of the republic.
He found a list of people who were entitled to the use the VIP lounge of the Shahjalal International Airport.
A person may be treated as a VIP, who is important in the estimation of the government according to one’s status, he said, adding that all people holding high government posts should not be included to the list of VIPs.
Munsurul Hoque said that the government officials were not VIPs. They were treated as public servants under the Article 133 of the constitution.
He said that every person in the service of the Republic ‘has a duty to strive at all times to serve the people’ under the Article 21 (2) of the constitution.
He said that there was no special criterion for bringing one within the category of the VIP.
The cabinet division by issuing notification declared VVIP and VIP for the use of the restricted area like the airports.
But the privilege is limited to the use and all dignitaries and distinguished persons may not be treated as VIPs in particular case or in particular situation, which is the discretion of the republic.
He said that VIP was not recognised officially but guided by warrant of precedence.
He added that India recently prepared a list of persons who are entitled to get VIP privileges.
But such list was absence in Bangladesh, he said.
VIP privileges should be provided only for special persons or dignitaries, he said, adding that even an ambulance was not allowed to go during the VIP movement.
‘If a plane is allowed emergency landing for treatment because of sudden sickness of a passenger, why the ambulance carrying patients will not be allowed to move first before the VIP, he argued.
He said that it was unfortunate that ambulances were kept standing for long in tailbacks in the capital and police always behaved indifferent.
He said that the government should give instructions to the police to treat ambulances and fire extinguisher vehicles above all types of VIPs and allow their free movement.
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