The High Court yesterday issued a contempt rule against 14 top government officials and the president of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association for not implementing its directive on forming a committee for impartial supervision of ship breaking activities.
The court also asked them to explain why proceedings should not be initiated against them and why they should not be punished for deliberately and persistently ignoring safety of workers and protection of environment in gross violation of its March 2009 judgment.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq came up with the rule following a contempt petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).
The HC in March 2009 had directed the respondents to form a committee to ensure impartial supervision of ship breaking activities, according to a Bela press release.
The court in 2011 ordered them to submit a report to it on whether the ship breaking yards were operating in compliance with its directives, conditions of environmental certificate and related laws.
As the committee is yet to be formed, accidents at ship breaking yards have been causing deaths. Ninety-three workers have died and the Department of Environment (DoE) has fined seven ship breaking yards for not complying with the conditions of environmental certificate since the HC delivered the directives in 2009, the press release said.
Environment and Forest Secretary Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Industries Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar, Shipping Secretary Shafique Alam Mehedi, Director General of the Department of Shipping Commodore M Zakiur Rahman Bhuiyan and DoE Director General Raisul Alam Mondal are among the government officials who have been made respondents to the contempt rule.
Fida M Kamal, Syeda Rizwana Hassan and M Shafiul Alam appeared for Bela.