A High Court bench yesterday observed that government officials are merely the servants of the republic, and they are not “very important persons” (VIPs).
Only the president and the prime minister of the country are the VVIPs (very, very important persons) and security issues are involved with regard to their movements, said the bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader, while hearing a writ petition filed in connection with the death of 13-year-old Titash Ghosh.
Following the petition, the bench issued a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain in four weeks why they should not be directed to give Tk 3 crore in compensation to the family of Titash Ghosh, who died in an ambulance on a ferry to Dhaka on July 25.
Family sources said Titash died in the ambulance as the ferry, that was going to Dhaka, delayed loading vehicles for three hours to wait for the arrival of a government official.
The court also directed the public administration secretary for appointing an officer, not below the rank of additional secretary, to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report before the court in three weeks.
The HC bench set August 28 for the next hearing and passing further orders in this regard.
Rights organisation Legal Support and People’s Rights filed the writ petition with the HC on July 30 seeking its directives on compensation for Titash’s family.
In the petition, the organisation also requested the HC to direct the authorities concerned to take steps so that ferries prioritise ambulances carrying critical patients, to order the shipping secretary to conduct an inquiry into the incident, and to ask the authorities to take appropriate legal action against those responsible.
During the hearing yesterday, Advocate Zahir Uddin Limon, chairman of Legal Support and People’s Rights, told the HC that ambulances carrying patients, and fire service and police transport are given priority during ferry movement in countries abroad.
The ferries there are not halted for any government official, he said.
The lawyer said the ferry in question delayed loading vehicles, while waiting for a joint secretary at Kathalbari Ferry Terminal in Munshiganj on July 25.
Replying to a question, he told the court that the president and the prime minister are VIPs and a joint secretary was not.
Deputy Attorney General Abdullah-Al-Mahmud Bashar told the court that the employees of the ferry may be responsible for the death of Titash, but the government is not responsible for the incident.
Thirteen-year-old Titash Ghosh, a student of Kalia Pilot Secondary School in Narail, was critically injured in a motorbike accident in the district on July 24.
A day later, doctors of a local hospital referred him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for an emergency operation.
The family, along with the 13-year-old, was traveling to Dhaka in an ambulance, which arrived at the Kathalbari Ferry Terminal in Munshiganj around 8:00pm on July 25.
A ferry called “Ferry Cumilla” was reportedly already at the pontoon, which had its gate closed and was not loading vehicles.
Ferry authorities said they were waiting for the arrival of Md Abdus Sabur Mondal, the head of Digital Service and Public Service Innovation Cluster and E-Service Implementation Specialist of the Access to Information (a2i) Programme at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The ambulance was stuck on the pontoon and could not reverse or shift to another because of the queue of vehicles in front and behind it.
The ferry started loading vehicles around 10:20pm when the authorities learnt that the government official was close by. Around 11:00pm, the official arrived and the ferry started moving.
Titash died on the ferry, family sources said.