River, rights commissions seem to be dummy bodies: HC

Bangladesh High Court
Bangladesh High Court. File photo.

The High Court today observed that the National River Protection Commission and National Human Rights Commission seem to be dummy commissions as they cannot take actions against any perpetrators.

They can only make reports and recommendations about any irregularities, the court said while continuing its delivery of a verdict for the second day on a writ petition that challenged the encroachment of rivers and construction of structures in rivers.

The HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal made the observation as petitioner's lawyer Advocate Manjill Murshid argued saying that the National River Protection Commission and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) cannot function effectively and cannot take any action against any person who commits irregularities.

The commissions were formed under such rules that they can only make recommendations and report about any irregularities, the lawyer said.

In response to his argument, the court said it will deliver some guidelines on next Sunday so that nobody has to move any case before the court for protecting the rivers and to demolish illegal structures from the rivers.

Earlier yesterday, the court declared the rivers as living entity, legal person and juristic person.

The court said the rivers' will have the rights to protect their rights.

The court said all the 450 rivers of the country will have to be protected in order to save the human beings from damage and pollution.

During delivery of Judgment today the court also said that the journalists are like whistle blowers and the court can take action against the irregularities following the media report made by the journalists.

On November 7, 2016, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh filed a writ petition after a report titled “Time to declare Turag dead” was published in The Daily Star on November 6, 2016.

Two days later, an HC bench directed the government to stop earth-filling, encroachment and construction along the banks of Turag, and submit a report after complying with the order.

It also issued a rule upon authorities concerned to explain why their inaction to stop such activities should not be declared illegal.

In October 2017, chief judicial magistrate of Gazipur submitted a report before the HC, saying 30 structures were set up illegally along the banks of the river in Gazipur. On December 13, 2017, the HC directed authorities to demolish the structures immediately.