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Be sincere about privacy of citizens: HC

14 September 2021

Staff Reporter:
The High Court on Monday said everyone concerned should be sincere about protecting the private communication of citizens.
The Bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman made the observation while hearing a writ petition that sought its directive on the government to take necessary steps to prevent eavesdropping
 and recording of private phone conversations.
The Bench fixed September 19 for delivering its order on the petition as it concluded hearing arguments on the issue.
While hearing the writ plea, the petitioners' lawyer Mohammad Shishir Manir told the court that Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is responsible to ensure private communication of citizens under the relevant provisions of the constitution and the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission law.
But the BTRC has failed to carry out its constitutional and legal duties, he said.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin opposed the writ petition saying that the writ petitioners, who are lawyers by profession, have no right to move such petition, as they are not aggrieved with any incident of eavesdropping and recording of private phone conversation.
If any person becomes aggrieved, he or she can file a case for necessary remedy, he said.
Petitioners' lawyer Shishir Manir replied that his clients as lawyers have right to move writ petition in order to protect the people's legal and constitutional rights.
Ten Supreme Court lawyers on August 10 this year submitted the writ petition as public interest litigation to the HC, seeking its directive on the government also to inform what necessary steps have been taken to prevent such incidents.
The 10 lawyers who filed the petition are-Rezowana Ferdose, Uttam Kumar Banik, Shah Navila Kashphi, Farhad Ahmed Siddiky, Mohammad Noab Ali, Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil, Mustafizur Rahman, GM Muzahidur Rahman, Imurl Kayes and Eakramul Kabir.
The petition also prayed to the High Court to issue a ruling asking the respondents to explain as to why the inaction of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in stopping the phone tapping should not be declared illegal.
The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology; Posts and Telecommunications Division, ICT Division, and Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have been made respondents in the writ petition.
A total of 20 incidents of phone tapping between 2013 and 2021 have been mentioned in the writ petition. The incidents included the leaked phone tapping of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.  
Earlier on June 22 this year a legal notice was served upon the concerned bodies of the government to know what necessary steps have been taken to prevent the phone tapping and to ensure the citizens' right to privacy of telecommunication. As the notice sender didn't receive any comply they filed the writ petition.

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