Saturday, February 16, 2019 | ePaper

Changing law means nothing unless its abuse is stopped and the judiciary is strong

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A DRAFT law approved by the Cabinet on Monday proposes a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment for causing death to a person by reckless driving unintentionally, drawing strong criticism from road safety campaigners who termed the sentence insufficient to end anarchy on roads.
A person who defames on social media under Section 57 of the ICT Act can go to jail for 7-14 years while someone who causes death by driving gets only 7 years--can this be a rigorous law? If a driver has deliberately committed a killing or has not averted a killing in a road accident, the matter would not fall under the purview of Section 103 of the Draft Act. It will fall under either section 302 or 304 of the Penal Code. The maximum punishment under Section 302 of the Penal Code is death penalty while it is life imprisonment under Section 304.
But who will find this out--the investigations carried out for accidents are hardly world-class. What's to say that even if by some miracle the transport workers are punished the punishment will not be commuted or reduced? Earlier we saw that transport workers can call strike anytime, anywhere.
The other provisions of the law such as driving without a license or out of registration vehicles can be applied to any motorised transport on the roads. Simply put, the stick given to the traffic police has become bigger. But will they utilise it for the benefit of all, or simply as a leverage to extort more money from those unfortunates who are in arrears over their license or fitness?
The transport drivers think they are immune because it takes a few thousand taka to get licenses through middlemen. So before any law is passed the ability of BRTA must be enhanced through appointing honest and efficient officials and it must be given more capacity to properly inspect all vehicles.
Changing the law itself will do very little unless there is proper implementation of the law and for that to occur there must be capable and honest leadership. Here the government does not seem to care.

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