Daily Star Home  

<%-- Page Title--%> Law letter <%-- End Page Title--%>

  <%-- Page Title--%> Issue No 161 <%-- End Page Title--%>  

October 10, 2004 

  <%-- Page Title--%> <%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>

Our right to know the report of judicial inquiry commission

Recently our judicial inquiry commission that was formed after 21 August's grenade attack on the opposition party has submitted their report. The gravity of terror and shock of 21st august "s attack is needless to say. The whole nation was waiting eagerly to know who is behind this heinous attack from the report of inquiry commission. But breaking the aspiration of the nation, the committee has refused to disclose the report. They have mentioned that this responsibility is on the government to take the decision of disclosing the report.

In our constitution Article 39 states that (1) Freedom of thought and conscience is guaranteed.(2) Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the state friendly relations with foreign states .public order ,decency or morality ,or in relation to contempt of court ,defamation or incitement to an offence the right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression and freedom of the press are guaranteed.

According to this section this freedom consists of the right to express freely one's opinion on any matter orally or by writing, printing or any other mode. In Hamdard dawakhanna vs India (AIR 1960 sc554), it was decided that this freedom of expression includes not only ones' ideas through any visible or audible representations made to others but also the right to acquire and import from others ideas, thoughts and information about matters of common interest.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has very comprehensive definition on freedom of expression in article 19 that states, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive information through any media and regardless of frontiers. Though article 39 of our constitution does not expressly provide freedom of information, but it can be assumed that the right of expression itself contains the right to access of information.

Now lets' see a case of U.S.A . In 1971 the publication of the 'pentagon papers by Newyork Times brought the conflicting claims of free speech and national security. The pentagon paper, a voluminous secret history and analysis of the country's involvement in Vietnam was leaked to press. When the Times ignored the government demand that it ceases publication, the stage was set for Supreme Court 's decision. In the landmark decision in U.S.A Vs Newyork Times case the court ruled that government couldn't through prior block publication of any material unless it could prove that "security result in direct immediate and irreparable " harm to the nation. The government failed to prove and the public was given access to vital information about an issue of enormous importance.

Yes, we have restrictions on our right to know the report of inquiry commission, we have 'Official Secrecy Act ", Evidence Act and Rules of business Act etc. But these restrictions exist for national security, for the better interest of our country. But if this report is not disclosed before public the nation will become sharply divisible on this issue. Our two main political parties will be continuing to throw blames on each other's and within this course of blaming and confusion that has created already, our democracy will be more fragile. It will lose all its charm, glory and continuance and definitely we ourselves will put the weapon on the hands of our enemy to destroy us. What will be then the output of these restrictions?

The report of the inquiry commission of 9\11 has been disclosed and has been made available for the people though it contains criticism of its own government's organizations. Japan is on the way to enact laws that will provide easy access of the people to government 's file. Toady all prudent countries' government has opened their doors for free flow of information for the people. Because no restriction is greater then people's wish, and people's wish is they want to know what is going on with them.

We the people of Bangladesh have the right under article 39 to know the report of judicial inquiry commission. The attack on 21st august is a attack to our democratic structure. We have the right to know who wants to destabilize our democracy, who don't want that we place ourselves as a respected nation before the world .It is our request to our elected government let us know who are against us.
Sharin Shajahan Naomi
2nd Year, Law Department, Dhaka University.

Feminist Jurisprudence

We know feminism is a modern influential concept. It has influenced almost al the sphere of human life. Pertinently there has been developed a branch named feminist view of jurisprudence. However the feminist view of jurisprudence is not matured enough. As a field of legal arena, feminist jurisprudence began in 1960s. Feminist jurisprudence is a philosophy of law based on the political, economic, and social equality of sexes. It now holds a significant place in US law and legal thought and influences many debates on sexual and domestic violence, inequality in the workplaces and gender-based discrimination. Through various approaches, feminists have identified gendered components and gendered implications of seemingly neutral laws and practices. Laws affecting employment, divorce, reproductive rights, rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment have all benefited from the analysis and insight of feminist jurisprudence.

Feminists believe that history was written from a male point of view. Male-dominated history does not reflect women's role in making history and structuring society. History has created a shameful bias in the concepts of human nature, gender potential, and social arrangements. The feminist says the language, logic, and structure of the law are male created and reinforce male values only. The male oriented law takes all the initiatives to deprive the women and perpetuate patriarchal power. Feminists do not belief that the biological make-up of men and women is so different that certain behavior can be attributed on the basis of sex. According to feminists gender is created socially, not biologically. Sex determines such matters as physical appearance and reproductive capacity, but not psychological, moral, or social traits.

Feminists believe in common commitments to equality between men and women. However feminist jurisprudence is not uniform till now. There are three schools of thought within feminist jurisprudence, traditional or liberal feminism, cultural feminism and radical or dominant feminism. Traditional, or liberal, feminism asserts that women are just as rational as men are. That's why they should have equal opportunity to make their own choices. Liberal feminists challenge the assumption of male authority. They want to erase gender-based distinctions recognised by law so that woman can compete in the workplace.

Another school of feminist legal thought is cultural feminists. They focus on the differences between men and women and celebrate those differences. Following the research of psychologist Carol Gilligan, this group of thinkers asserts that women and men are different in their nature. The cultural feminists think women emphasise the importance of relationships, contexts, and reconciliation of conflicting interpersonal positions, on the other hand men emphasise abstract principles of rights and logic. The objective of this school is to give equal recognition to women's moral voice of caring and communal values.

Like the liberal feminist school of thought, radical or dominant feminism focuses on inequality. Radical feminists think that men, as a class, have dominated women as a class, creating gender inequality. According to them gender is a question of power. Radical feminists urge us to abandon traditional approaches that take maleness as their reference point. They argue that sexual equality must be constructed on the basis of woman's difference from man and not should be a mere accommodation of that difference.

Every branch of knowledge has some outstanding important characteristics and some flaws also. This is same about feminist view of jurisprudence.
Arif Khan
Dept of Law, Dhaka University

      (C) Copyright The Daily Star. The Daily Star Internet Edition, is joiblished by the Daily Star