Quota: SC passes order but protestors seek solution from govt

A protester chants slogan at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on 10 July 2024Prothom Alo

The students and job aspirants, who have been waging a movement seeking a reform in the quota system in government jobs, have said their movement does not have any relation with the court.

The demonstrators said this following an order of the Appellate Division after hearing a writ on the issue Wednesday.

The students and job aspirants also said they have been seeking an ultimate solution to the quota-issue from the government.

They also warned that they would not leave the streets until a reasonable solution to the issue is reached.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court today ordered to maintain a status quo for four weeks to the parties involved in a writ petition on quota system in the government jobs.

A five-member bench led by chief justice Obaidul Hassan pronounced the order with a few observations and directives around 12:00 pm.

The students and job aspirants are observing the “Bangla Blockade” programme under the “anti-discriminatory student movement” banner.

As part of the movement, they have blocked several vital intersections including Shahbagh in the capital city. This has created a huge traffic gridlock in a large part of the city.

Following the Appellate Division’s order, anti-discriminatory student movement coordinator Nahid Islam told Prothom Alo, “Our today’s movement has no relation with the court. Actually, we are seeking a solution to the quota-issue from none but the executive. We have one demand. This is not a matter of the court. Only the executive can fulfil this. We are hoping for a clear statement from the government.”

Another coordinator of the movement Hasnat Abdullah, who was at the blockade programme at Shahbagh, said, “The problem has been intensified through this order. We are disheartened but have not lost courage. We will not leave the streets until reaching a reasonable solution to the quota system through the constitution of a commission by the executive.”

The public administration ministry on 4 October 2018 issued a circular abolishing the quotas in direct appointment of government jobs from 9th to 13th grades.

Challenging the legality of the circular, in 2021, seven children of freedom fighters, including Ohidul Islam, filed a writ with the High Court.

The High Court issued a rule over the primary hearing of the writ on 6 December 2021, seeking explanation about showing disrespect to freedom fighters and non-compliance of the High Court and the Appellate Division orders.

After the final hearing, the High Court declared the rule “absolute” on 5 June.

Seeking the stay of the High Court verdict, the state filed a petition, which was placed for hearing at the full bench of the Appellate Division via the chamber court.

As the writ petitioner sought time, the Appellate Division ordered “not today” (4 July).

At the same time, the state was asked to file a regular leave to appeal.

In this context, two students Tuesday filed a petition against the High Court verdict.

The appeals were heard at the Appellate Division today.

In its order, the court set 7 August as the next hearing date.

Later, attorney general AM Amin Uddin told Prothom Alo that the Appellate Division has asked all the relevant parties to maintain a status quo in the matter. That means the current status will remain in place.

He further said the quota system will not be followed for the circulars that were published based on the government’s 2018 circular abolishing quotas.