FF Officials' Benefits: Govt yet to implement HC verdict
12:00 AM, July 19, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:49 AM, July 19, 2018

FF Officials' Benefits: Govt yet to implement HC verdict

Freedom fighters who won a legal battle six years ago are yet to get their retirement benefits for public service as the government has not implemented the court's verdict.

The High Court in 2012 directed the government to give service benefits to its retiree freedom fighter officials and employees by increasing their retirement age by one more year with retrospective effect from 2010.

Around 300 retirees, who are freedom fighters, are entitled to get benefits of the verdict, said Jamal Uddin Sikder, who filed the case.

The case began in early 2012 after the government increased the retirement age of non-freedom fighter government officials to 59 from 57. With this change, the retirement age for both freedom fighters and non-freedom fighters in public service became the same.

However, earlier in February 2010, the government raised the retirement age of freedom fighter officers and employees to 59 years from 57 to honour their glorious role in the country's Liberation War in 1971.

Two years later, when the government increased retirement age of other officials and employees, it did not increase the retirement age of the freedom fighters again.

In this situation, freedom fighter Jamal, a former senior official of the food directorate, was granted one year post retirement leave from October 2012 to send him into retirement as he became 59 years. 

He then filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the notification that increased the retirement age of government officials other than freedom fighters.   

During the hearing, the attorney general told the court that the government had plans to increase the retirement age of freedom fighters to 60 from 59, which the government did later in 2013.

Back in May 2012, the HC reached a verdict which directed the government to give retrospective effect of its order on increasing the retirement age of freedom fighters from February 2010. This would be applicable to those freedom fighters whose retirement age was raised in 2010.

In the verdict, the HC made some observations including reservation of the 30 percent quota in public service and keeping it vacant if the posts are not filled by children of freedom fighters, giving freedom fighters free medical treatment and discounted fare in public transport. 

In 2013, the government filed an appeal with the Appellate Division seeking expunction of some observations made in the HC verdict.

In its verdict in 2015, the Appellate Division expunged those observations, including providing freedom fighters free medical treatment in government and semi-government hospitals and discounted fare in all public transports.

It also modified the observation on the 30 percent quota system by expunging the part which contained "if the quota cannot be filled, the posts concerned be kept vacant.”

NO BENEFIT, STILL

Jamal and other former freedom fighter officials have yet to get their benefits in line with the court's verdict.

Talking to The Daily Star on Thursday, he said they have made frantic efforts to get the benefits in line with the court's verdict, but to no avail. 

In 2013, Jamal even filed a contempt of court petition against some top government officials, including secretaries of the public administration ministry, for not implementing the court's order.

In April 2017, the HC directed the government officials accused of contempt of court to implement the verdict within two months.

But things remain the same.

Jamal said he, along with a delegation of Bangladesh Liberation War Research Foundation, a platform of freedom fighters, recently met the secretary of the Liberation War affairs ministry and urged him to take measures for the implementation of the verdict.

"The secretary assured us of looking into the matter," Jamal, also secretary general of the platform, told The Daily Star after the meeting.

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