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The High Court (HC) yesterday summoned Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) secretary Mahbub-e-Rabbani to appear before it on April 30 to explain his position over the plying of unfit vehicles and the large number of drivers without any valid licence across the country. - A home for your website

In a suo moto move, the HC bench also asked the authorities concerned to submit a detailed report on the numbers of such unfit vehicles and drivers before the court on that very day.

The HC bench, comprising Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam, came up with the order following a report published in a national daily on March 23 under the headline “No fitness docs, yet running”.

The HC bench also issued a rule asking the authorities concerned to explain why their failure to stop the running of unfit vehicles and drivers without valid licences should not be declared illegal. It also asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to ensure proper implementation of all rules under the Motor Vehicles Act 1983 so that people can move safely on the streets.

Home, road transport and bridges ministry secretaries, the inspector general of police (IGP), the BRTA chairman, the deputy commissioner of Dhaka (traffic) and the BRTA director have been asked to reply to the rule within four weeks.

The HC bench came up with the orders and rule after Supreme Court (SC) lawyer advocate Syed Mamun Mahbub brought the report into the notice of court, saying many people have died and even more injured following the road accidents taking place due to the lack of proper monitoring of unfit vehicles and incompetent drivers. Then, the HC bench sought opinion in this regard from the newly elected Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, advocate M Amin Uddin, who was present in the courtroom at that time. The HC bench said that it could not stand ’terrorism on the roads’ anymore.

“We saw road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader checking the fitness of vehicles and driving licences. But, the scenario has not changed a bit. Why such indiscipline would continue despite the minister’s best efforts?” the HC bench wanted to know from the authorities concerned.

Deputy attorney general Pratiker Chakma and AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the state during the court proceedings.

According to the report, more than 70,000 vehicles have not had their fitness certificates renewed in 10 years. Many of them are still on the road, posing serious risks of accidents. Under the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983, vehicles must undergo mandatory fitness checks every year.

Unfit vehicles are a key reason behind road accidents, a major issue in the country right now, especially since last year’s massive student protests demanding safer roads. Tens of thousands of students had taken to the streets in Dhaka and other cities following the death of two college students in a road accident in the capital on July 29.

At least 4,439 people were killed in 3,103 accidents last year mainly due to faulty vehicles, according to Nirapad Sarak Chai, a road safety campaigner.