Several flaws of the road transport law surface in a webinar discussion
Bangladesh Legal Aid Services and Trust (BLAST) and Tort Law Project Bangladesh jointly organized the webinar, “Accountability for Road Crashes: Compensation under the Road Transport Act 2018,” on Thursday.
The webinar marked the ninth death anniversary of filmmaker Tareque Masud and journalist Mishuk Munier.
Tareque and Mishuk, with three others, died in a road accident on August 13, 2011, in Ghior of Manikganj. The accident took place when their microbus collided with another bus coming from the opposite direction.
The team was returning from location scouting for Masud's next movie, Kagojer Phool, in Manikganj.
Addressing the webinar, Catherine Masud, spouse of Tareque Masud, said: “I would be living in Bangladesh and making films too. But I am back in the US now due to the terrible road accident which changed my life.”
“I had a conversation with Dr Kamal Hossain where he asked me if I would be interested to file a civil case to receive compensation. I had not really thought about it as I come from a different society and was not really familiar with the specifics of the procedures,” she added.
“Considering my situation, Dr Kamal explained how we could use the case to set precedence. Then I thought it was not for me or Tareque’s family, but for something bigger,” said Catherine.
“It was for those tens of thousands of people who have died and been injured, their families affected, due to the negligence of drivers and dangerous conditions. The case could be used for its high profile nature,” she added.
Despite being traumatized, she moved forward to file the cases including a civil one at that time, knowing the journey would be long.
Terming the case “exceptional,” Catherine said: “Our case went to the supreme court because the incident happened with well known people --Tareque Masud and Mishuk Munier. This case should not be an exceptional one.”
“The idea should be of setting an example. So, the prioritized process can be used for ongoing cases in all sectors. We were very pleased as well, that eventually the judge ruled in our favor,” she added.
Catherine remarked that there were discussions among drivers, vehicle owners, and other stakeholders, as the verdict created a pressure on them to be responsible to avoid such negligence acts and– preventing future accidents.
It is not only a matter of a judicial fact, but also of changing a culture,” she added.
“The case is now going through an appeal process and neither Tareque’s family nor I got a single penny as compensation,” she stressed.
Catherine also discussed multiple issues of the whole transportation sector -- including driving license, fitness of vehicles, insurance, and owners’ liability.
Flaws of the act
Indicating a flaw of the transport act, another speaker at the virtual program, Barrister Halim said: “In chapter nine of Road Transport Act-2018, what the government imposed -- under the title compensation, treatment and insurance -- violates the right to life of the people as per our constitution’s article 32.”
Catherine’s lawyer Sara Hossain said though the court’s verdict was in their favour, there are still many issues regarding whether it was enough or not.
Sara is fighting two cases at the appellate division of the Supreme Court to get justice in the tragic accident on behalf of her client.
Discussing the compensation issue from Road Transport Act, 2018, Advocate Tajul Islam said that this law suggested raising funds for arranging compensation as per Section 57, which would encourage extortion of money.
“The latest act lagged behind from the previous one (The Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983) as it did not have any term to file cases in civil court,” he added.
Taqrib Huda, rights activist, discussed Catherine’s case and the High Court verdict in light of the Road Transport Act-2018 with a PowerPoint presentation. He said no passenger representatives or experts are there at the board of trustees who could direct the funds.
Veteran legal expert and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain said: “Several flaws of the road transport law have been marked through the discussion. Another discussion should be made on those issues which have been pointed out today.
“From that discussion, we will gain recommendations and make amendments according to them. We have to continue our movement in this regard to make the law more effective,” he added.