The High Court yesterday issued a rule upon the authorities concerned to explain by two weeks as to why they should not be directed to stop vehicles running on the wrong side of roads in Dhaka.
The order came amid rampant violation of the traffic rule by influential people, including top government officials, law enforcement agency members and media people and following a number of news reports on it.
It has almost become a norm that huge sport utility vehicles with government stickers, some flying the national flag, would travel on the wrong side while the “commoners” are stuck in traffic on the correct side of the road.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq came up with the rule following a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Mohammad Ali.
The lawyer submitted the petition on May 3 based on a photo published in The Daily Star on March 17 under a headline “Laws bent for some”.
Ali submitted the petition seeking necessary order from the HC to stop vehicles travelling on the wrong side of roads.
The petition said travelling on the wrong side of road is a punishable offence under the motor vehicles law, but vehicles carrying some influential persons, including ministers, civil and high police officials and students, travel on the wrong side causing accidents and congestion.
Under Section 140(2) of The Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983: “Whoever, otherwise than with lawful authority or reasonable excuse, drives or causes to be driven a motor vehicle in opposite direction on one way road or contrary to any notice shall be punishable with fine which may extend to [two hundred] Taka.”
The vice-chancellors of Dhaka University, Jagannath University and Jahangirnagar University, cabinet secretary, home secretary, education secretary, inspector general of police (IGP), BRTA chairman, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner and deputy commissioner (traffic) have been made respondents to the rule, Belayet Hossain, a lawyer for the petitioner, told The Daly Star.
BAN ON STICKERS, SIRENS
Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police yesterday imposed a ban on using stickers on vehicles identifying various professionals, including journalists, lawyers and police.
DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said they have been conducting drive against the practice since April 24 to curb criminal activities.
“It was seen in the past that criminals used fake stickers on vehicles while committing crime,” he told a press briefing at the DMP media centre.
Legal action would be taken against the offenders, he added.
The police chief, however, said employees of different organisations will be allowed to use painted logos and monograms of their respective organisations on vehicles.
When asked under which law the ban is being implemented, he dodged the question and said “Isn't it an offence if you use a police jacket despite not being a police?”
He said police would prevent people from talking over the mobile phone while crossing streets, stop the practice of more than one pillion rider on motorbikes, use of tinted glass, hydraulic horns, sirens and beacons and driving on the wrong side.
The new directives were for easing congestion, said the DMP boss.
The DMP had conducted drives against the use of tinted glass on vehicles in 2014 but left those used by government offices, forces and other public offices out of its drive purview.
It also conducted drives and set up spike strips on several occasions on roads to stop vehicles going on the wrong side, but it too died out.
They even collected footage only to find a high number of influential people top the list of traffic rules violators.
Briefing reporters yesterday, the DMP commissioner said they issued letters to different government offices in this regard and received positive responses.
He urged city dwellers to assist the DMP to make Dhaka better.
A circular has been issued for police directing them not to use stickers in their private cars, he added.
Asked whether stopping the use of the stickers would put professionals into police harassment, the commissioner said the DMP would take action if allegation was raised against any traffic policeman.
He said lawmakers, their families, employees of the parliament and parliament secretariat and its affiliated departments have to use stickers on their personal vehicles provided by their offices.
He further said in a bid to tackle militant activities police would form “surveillance teams” comprising of local public representatives and police at different wards under the city corporations to detect suspicious activities.
He also said they have collected about 40 lakh forms of tenants consisting of their personal information.