DHAKA: A writ petition was filed Monday with the High Court for its ruling outlawing June 27 hartal called by the opposition BNP, as the opponents interpret the general strike as a disruptive political action.
The petition was filed with a HC bench compressing justices Mohammad Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed and Naima Haider.
The petitioners are Journalists Society for Human Rights and Welfare general secretary Azizul Haque Patwari, advocate Mujahidul Islam and Mahbubul Alam Chowdhury.
In their plea the trio said, “The strike should be declared illegal as strike casts a negative impact on life and business.”
Five people, including opposition leader and BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia, BNP secretary-general Khondoker Delwar Hossain and the home secretary on government side, are respondents to the writ petition.
According to the petitioners, the follow-up legal step was taken for not getting any response to the notice sent to Khaleda Zia and her political kingpins asking them to withdraw the proposed dawn-to-dusk hartal.
On May 26, the legal notice was served on behalf of the three petitioners, including Azizul Islam Patwary, a pro-Awami League lawyer.
A number of writ petitions have so far been filed since 1999 with the High Court asking a ban on hartal, on grounds that such strike, often associated by violence in the past, disrupts normal life and business. The Supreme Court and its High Court division have given a number of directions and orders.
On 10 June 2006, just the day before the Dhaka-siege program thrown by the then opposition Awami League-led 14-party alliance, Gazi Rabiul Islam Sagar filed a writ challenging the legality of that barricade.
The same day, at 3pm, an interregnum bench of the High Court division comprising Justice Syed Mohammad Dastagir Hossain and Justice Mamunur Rahman ordered the disputants to abstain from enforcing the blockade on June 11.
Although an appeal was filed against the ruling, but till now no hearing had been held on that appeal. As a result, the ban on any strike or barricade still stands, legal experts said.
On the contrary, a writ was filed challenging the legal aspect of hartal during the Awami League-led coalition government in 1999.
Getting no reply to the February 15, 1996 rule, the division bench of justices Golam Rabbani and Latifur Rahman passed an order on 13 March of the same year, declaring general strike coupled with violence as `criminal offence`.
The then secretary-general of BNP, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, had appealed against the High Court edict. Following series of dates over long eight years since, the hearings ended towards the end of 2007.
On 2 December 2007, a full bench of the Appellate Division led by then chief justice M. Ruhul Amin passed an order: “political parties can call general strikes”.
In the last instance, a notice was sent to Begum Zia requesting them to withdraw the general strike set for June 27, 2010.
The notice says: “Hartal hampers mass life, and even causes death. It has a negative effect on the economy also.”
The challengers also said foreign investors also get discouraged for the shutdown. It seizes the wages of poor people, daily laborers. The state counts loss of hundreds of crores of Taka, as the economy goes to doom. The rickshaw-puller and the day laborer suffer a lot due to hartal.
They deplored that “political leaders never go to see the destiny of those victimized people before or after the hartal, neither do they extend their hand to help them in time of need. Moreover, the fundamental rights secured by the constitution are also violated during hartal”.
In their notice they asked begum Khaleda Zia to withdraw the proposed June 27 hartal she called on 19 May from a grand assembly at Paltan, within seven days after she had received it.
The writ is going to be filed as more than a week has passed by, the sources said.
BDST: 06:50 Hrs, June 7, 2010.