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Commentary

We can't allow rule of law and sense of justice disappear

By MAINUL HOSEIN
23rd-Mar-2014       
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The report of the Transparency International has not revealed anything new about the dysfunctional nature of the parliament and democracy. This is the same old story repeated many times in the past 42 years. The people have ceased to expect much from the kind of politics based on the rewriting the glory of past only to destroy it. There are loud claims about the liberation war but both democracy and the rule of law are in grave crisis in present Bangladesh. The issues of bail and anticipatory bail granted by court should be seen, in all fairness, as important in the background of abuse of police power especially when the police are used politically encouraging mass arrests. When extra-judicial killings and disappearances are frequent. Anticipatory bail is sought by way of showing respect to the judicial authority, while at the same time to save oneself from humiliation and harassment of arrest. Anticipatory bail is a short time bail directing the person to surrender to the lower court. Seeking anticipatory bail should be seen as showing respect to the rule of law and the court. The idea that the police must arrest a person, make him spend the night in police station before producing him in court to pray for bail has not to be an essential process in every case. But the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has recently reminded about the guidelines to be followed for anticipatory bail meaning the High Court Division must not take it easy.A court has to act in the context and background of the situation prevailing. The people have no difficulty in agreeing with the Appellate Division that in matters of bail no distinction should be made between a politician and a non-politician. At the same time how politics is used to mass arrest and start false cases should  also be matter of concern for the judiciary.We expect from the courts to look disfavourably the practice of police filing F.I.R including hundreds of unnamed persons so that they can justify arresting anybody and everybody. How much police are free to be honest about arrest and showing cases against persons should also be a question of serious concern. The police does not enjoy independence  from political influence is a brutal reality.The power of law is everything but how much hardship it causes  through abuse of law to the people does not often enter considerations. Most of the laws are for weakening the people's right of the protection of law. To cite only one area of laws, the banking sector is a hot bed of corruption because of one-sided laws protecting the banks and not the public. Artha-Rin Ain is devastating for the borrowers. No people's parliament would have passed any law giving all the powers to the bank officials. The bank officials are protected shifting all the blame on to the investors when anything goes wrong.It is no consideration that the investors are keeping the wheels of the economy running and still when the times are difficult the investors are seen as thieves and villains. The money laundering law is also too sweeping. The offence of cheating under Section 420 of the Bangladesh Penal Code has been brought under jurisdiction of Anti-Corruption Commission extending its power without consideration of anxiety of its abuses.The people cannot be blamed if they think that political protection or being in a position of public authority is necessary for protection of law. The laws are no help for the general public. There is every scope for misusing laws to victimize others. The police as enforcers of law have all the discretions but, releasing a person on bail must not be easy. He must be condemned to jail before the even trial begins or charge sheet lodged. The presumption of innocence means nothing. All these acts can be seen as disempowering the people and making them helpless before abuse of law. Democracy is empowerment of the people in public affairs. Yet in free Bangladesh, the people have been made powerless by denying them democracy step by step. Where democracy decays, the rule of law also decays. That is why we all have to be more careful in protecting the rule of law and democracy.  The people's liberation war is being rewritten and reinterpreted to deny people democracy and the protection of the rule of law. All the patriotic ones have to think where we are heading to for serving whose interest. We cannot allow the rule of law and the sense of justice disappear along with democracy.

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