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Proposed Act must ensure proper punishment of law violators to make the road secure, govt should not bow down to unlawful pressure

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04th-Aug-2018       
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News media reported that the proposed much-talked-about Road Transport Act does not contain the provision of capital punishment. The Act is expected to play the role of an extinguisher to douse the flame torched by juveniles that eventually spread over the country for securing road safety. But now it seems, the government's attitude is nothing but lingering time and a mockery with the students. It is anticipated that the draft act which is being marked as the top solution by the government for ensuring discipline in the road transport sector will be tabled in the regular Cabinet meeting on Monday. The proposed Act, which stakeholders have been demanding a capital punishment provision in the law for those responsible for deaths in fatal road accidents but the highest punishment in the draft law is five years in jail. Its a bow down to the pressure of transport mafias.  
The government took the initiative to formulate the Road Transport Act in 2009 but could not finalise the draft in its first five-year term which ended in 2014 as associations of road transport owners and workers raised objections against various provisions. During the government's second term, the Road Transport and Highways Division finalised a draft of the bill. However, the proposed draft will replace the existing Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983. On March 27, 2017, the Cabinet on principle  approved the draft of the Road Transport Act and made some observations.
Recently, the demand for capital punishment has gained momentum following the deaths of film director Tareque Masud and journalist Mishuk Munier, who were killed in a road accident in 2013. As per the latest draft Act, the maximum fine is not more than Tk5 lakh and the minimum fine is not more than Tk 5,000. Nothing was mentioned about the driver's educational qualification in the law but the proposed draft says a driver must have passed eighth grade and an assistant must have passed fifth grade. If a driver does not have a driving licence he will face six months' imprisonment or pay a fine of Tk 50,000 or both. Drivers responsible for the death or serious injury through road accident will be tried under the regular penal code.
The Act which is shown as the solution of all irregularities in the transport sector is inappropriate as no capital punishment has been proposed as at least two ministers back the anarchy of transport workers and they get immunity for crimes. We remember the situation over the transport law during HM Ershad period. At that time, the government was compelled to withdraw the provision of capital punishment following severe pressure from transport organisations. We don't want to see it again.
We do urge the government to correct the proposed draft Act placing capital punishment for killing on roads due to negligence, mechanical fault, over speed, mad race and fake driving license. The wake of the juvenile, unique in the world, seeking justice for deliberate killing by transport workers should not go unheeded. Government cannot bow down to the unlawful pressure of any section for making the people hostage of ruffians.

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