YOUR ADVOCATE | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 28, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:57 AM, March 28, 2017

YOUR ADVOCATE

This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, 'Legal Counsel', which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies.

Query

I am 23 years old, student of a private university and living in student hostels. For the past one month, a man identifying himself as 'Faisal' has been repeatedly calling me on my cell-phone. Every time, he makes different excuses to talk to me and I explained very clearly that I don't wish to speak to him as I don't know him. He keeps calling me, at least 30 to 40 times a day. I stopped receiving the calls and I blocked his number. Later, he started calling me from different numbers and I blocked those numbers as well. I am scared now as he sometimes sends messages addressing me by my name and writes that he knows where I live. I am now concerned about my personal safety on top of being seriously harassed. Is there anything I can do to stop this harassment?

Thanking you,

Suma (not real name)

 

Response

Dear Reader, as I can understand from reading your problem, having phone calls and text messages from an unknown person is a serious issue of harassment. The simplest solution in these circumstances is provided in section 70(2) of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act 2001, which provides that it shall be lawful for the operator, upon a complaint and authorisation from the person to whom continuous unwanted calls are made, to trace the source of, to intercept, monitor or record the calls or to take steps to prevent the calls. As such, you may report the number(s) to your concerned network operator and authorise them to block these calls from reaching your number anymore. However, I must also explore other options since you have already mentioned that the unknown person makes phone calls from several different numbers and it might, at one point, become impractical to keep approaching the operators to block all such numbers.

Causing 'annoyance by telephone calls' is in fact a crime under the above mentioned law and this is exactly where redress can be sought for the unpleasant mental suffering that you are facing in the current scenario. According to section 70 of the 2001 Act, a person commits an offence if he, without a reasonable excuse, repeatedly makes telephone calls to another person in such a manner that the calls cause annoyance or inconvenience to that other person.

Applying this legal provision to your situation, it can very well be said that 'Faisal' (assuming that this is in fact his real name) is highly likely to have already committed an offence since his forty or so phone calls in a day for one whole month have undoubtedly caused you adequate annoyance and inconvenience.

Having identified the offence, I shall now guide you through the procedure by which you can make a complaint to the relevant authorities for the taking of steps against Mr. Faisal. Section 78 of the Act details the procedure for inquiry, investigation procedure and lodging of complaint for the offence. Generally, inquiry, investigation and lodging of a case for an offence committed under the 2001 Act are done by an inspector of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which is the concerned commission for these matters. However, the law also provides for the scope for inspectors of the law enforcement agencies to be authorised to undertake these inquiries, investigation and the lodging of complaints. As such, at the initial stage, you may either approach to the BTRC or your nearby police station, and inform them about the constant phone calls, providing them with the phone-number(s) of the caller and all other details.

If Mr. Faisal is ultimately traced and found guilty of the offence on completion of the case, the maximum penalty that he may suffer is a fine that may amount to a maximum of one lakh taka. If Mr. Faisal fails to pay a fine that is imposed by the courts, he may also face imprisonment up to six months.

You might be looking for the fastest alternative to make the calls stop for good as soon as possible and it might not be desirable for you to pursue a complaint to the authorities that would entail enquiries, investigation and then ultimately lodging a case. I advise you to approach to your network operator at the earliest instance and try to block calls and texts from as many of the numbers as possible. I would also advise you to at least keep the local police station or the BTRC informed of the matter and take their suggestion since such constant calls may be very intimidating and also unsafe depending upon how much information the caller has about you.

I hope that the above advice shall provide you with some guidance and help you reach a safe solution to the problem.

 

For detailed query contact: omar@legalcounselbd.com.

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