The High Court yesterday directed the owners of the vehicles without valid fitness documents to collect their fitness certificates in two months, starting from August 1.
If an owner fails to do so, his or her vehicles would not be allowed to ply on the roads after September 30, the HC also said, adding that it would pass necessary order to this effect during the next hearing on October 15.
The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam issued the suomoto (voluntary) rule yesterday after the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) submitted a report before it, saying a total of 4,79,320 vehicles without valid fitness certificates were running on the roads across the country.
Among the vehicles, 2,61,113 are operating in Dhaka division, 1,19,588 in Chattogram division, 26,240 in Rajshahi, 6,588 in Rangpur, 15,668 in Khulna, 44,805 in Sylhet, and 5,338 in Barishal division, the report mentioned.
The vehicles are registered with the BRTA but their fitness clearances have expired, the report also said.
BRTA’s lawyer Advocate Rafiul Islam submitted the report to the HC as per its June 24 order.
During the hearing, the HC asked the BRTA’s lawyer what BRTA was doing while vehicles without fitness certificates were running right under its nose.
Lawyer Rafiul told the court that in the current year, the BRTA had filed 39,837 cases and fined a total of Tk 6.72 crore for running vehicles without valid fitness documents.
Unfit vehicles are considered to be a key reason behind road accidents. Road safety came to the fore after students took to the streets twice over the last one year demanding safer roads.
The court also asked why it should allow unfit vehicles to run as they cause road accidents.
The BRTA has much power, including running mobile courts against unfit vehicles, but it does not exercise the powers in this regard, the court said.
Earlier on June 24 this year, BRTA submitted another report saying more than 4.58 lakh unfit vehicles were on the road and 1.68 lakh of them were operating in the capital.
The vehicles are among 40.18 lakh registered with the BRTA, the report said.
As per the law, all vehicles, except for motorcycles, must have their fitness checked and their certificates renewed from the BRTA every year.
According to the BRTA report, some 13.91 lakh vehicles are required to have the fitness certificates renewed annually. The report, however, did not mention anything about the high number of vehicles that were not registered with the BRTA.
On that day (June 24), the HC bench observed that unfit vehicles were being driven by drivers without valid licences under the very nose of the law enforcers.
Following a report published by The Daily Star on March 23, the HC bench on March 27 issued the suomoto rule asking the authorities concerned to explain as to why their inaction to stop unfit vehicles from running and drivers without valid licences from driving should not be declared illegal.
Supreme Court lawyer Syed Mamun Mahbub had read out the newspaper report before the court. As per the report headlined “No fitness docs, yet running”, more than 70,000 vehicles did not have their fitness certificates renewed in 10 years, and many of them were on the road.
In the rule, the court had asked why directives should not be given to implementing the relevant laws, including the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983.
It also asked authorities concerned to submit a report before it on unfit vehicles, vehicles that are not registered with the BRTA and drivers without valid licences.
Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik appeared for the state.