In a verdict, the High Court (HC) yesterday (Thursday) observed that the National River Protection Commission and National Human Rights Commission seem to be dummy commissions, as they cannot take action against perpetrators. An HC bench said drama has been enacted over occupation, encroachment as well as removal of illegal structures from river banks. It should be stopped for the greater interest of protection of rivers from destruction.
The HC bench, comprising Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal, made the observations while continuing its delivery of a verdict for the second day on a writ petition that challenged encroachment of rivers and construction of structures on river banks. As the petitioner lawyer, Advocate Manzill Murshid, told the court that the National River Protection Commission and the NHRC cannot function effectively and cannot take action against any person who commits irregularities, the HC bench said: “They can only make reports and recommendations about irregularities.”
The HC bench said it would set some guidelines in its verdict fixed for next Sunday, so that nobody has to move any court for protecting the rivers and to demolish illegal structures on banks.
On Wednesday, the court declared the rivers as living entity, legal person and juristic person.
Although it was scheduled to declare the verdict yesterday, the HC bench did not declare the full verdict yesterday for scrutinising the previous verdict delivered by an HC bench, led by Justice ABM Khairul Haque, relating to the river protection case. The court said all the 450 rivers of the country will have to be protected to save human beings from damage and pollution. “We will deliver the verdict tomorrow so that it would not be contradictory with the existing laws and the previous verdict,” the HC bench said.
During yesterday’s verdict, the HC bench also said journalists are like whistle blowers, and the court can take action against irregularities following a media report by a journalist. On November 7, 2016, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh filed a writ petition after a report titled “Time to declare Turag dead” was published in a national daily on November 6, 2016.
Two days later, an HC bench directed the government to stop earth-filling, encroachment and construction along the banks of the Turag and submit a report after complying with the order. It also issued a rule upon the authorities concerned to explain why their inaction to stop such activities should not be declared illegal.
In October 2017, the chief judicial magistrate of Gazipur submitted a report before the HC, saying 30 structures were set up illegally along the banks of the river in Gaziipur. On December 13, 2017, the HC directed the authorities to demolish the structures immediately.