Compensation in road accidents rare

Mohiuddin Faruk . Dhaka | Update:

.Nafia Gazi, a student of the economics department at Dhaka University, was run over and killed by a bus on 29 March 1991 near Mouchak Market in the capital. Her father Kamal Ahmed Gazi filed a lawsuit in which a Dhaka court ordered a payment of Tk 1 million in compensation. Nafia’s family only received the money in 2017, that is, 26 years after her death.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court ordered a payment of Tk 17 million in compensation to the family of journalist Mozammel Hossain Montu, who was killed in a road accident in 1989 near Shantinagar in the city.

The Supreme Court verdict was passed on 13 April 2016, also 26 years after the journalist’s death. Three years have passed since then, but his wife is yet to receive the compensation.

Executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Sara Hossain, said there are only a few compensation cases as many of the victims or families are not aware that the responsible person or organisation can be sued for compensation at the sessions judge's court according to the motor vehicles ordinance.

Then again, even if the verdict is passes, the compensation is often held up due to complicated legal procedures, she added.

Although there is a record of the number of casualties, the organisations working on road accidents do not have an account of how many cases have been filed for compensation so far.

This Prothom Alo correspondent found records of 12 cases including writs seeking compensation by the victims' families and public interest organisations. Four of the cases were filed by the by the victims’ families while the remaining eight cases were filed by Supreme Court lawyers, human rights and legal aid organisations.

One of the families received full compensation while two others received partial payments. The remaining nine cases are yet to see any development as one is stuck in the Appellate Division while eight others are to be settled in the High Court.

Mozammel's wife still waits

Mozammel Hossain Montu, the former news editor of the daily Sangbad, died on 16 December 1989, after the road accident. His wife Raushan Akhter filed a lawsuit with the lower court on 1 January 1991 demanding compensation of 35.2 million taka.

The judicial court gave the verdict after five years of filing the case and the High Court verdict came after another five years.

Bangladesh Beverage, the owner of the mini-truck that ran over Mozammel, appealed to the Appellate Division against the High Court verdict. The Appellate Division passed the verdict on 13 April 2016 that read that the victim’s family is entitled to get compensation of 17 million taka.

Raoshan Akhter expressed her grief saying if the verdict of the Supreme Court is not effective what do the people do?

“It’s been 26 years since the verdict of the Supreme Court came. Even after three years, the compensation remains pending,” Raushan told Prothom Alo.

The court ordered to confiscate five bighas of the company's land in Tejgaon to be auctioned to pay the compensation. Nobody, however, took part in the auction even after the advertisement appeared in the newspaper. Raushan Akhtar appealed for intervention of the prime minister to get the money.

Tareque Masud case in Appellate division, Mishuk Munier case in High Court

Film maker Tareque Masud and ATN News's chief executive officer (CEO) Mishuk Muneir died in a road accident on Dhaka-Aricha Highway in Manikganj on 13 August in 2011.
Two suits were filed for compensation according to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance. The High Court gave the verdict on 3 December 2017 in the case filed by Tareque Masud's family. The verdict is said to pay a compensation of 46.1 million taka.

But after the verdict, the bus owner and the prosecutor made separate appeals which are awaiting hearing in the Appellate Division.

On the other hand, the compensation case filed by Mishuk Munier's family is awaiting hearing in court. The High Court has fixed the date for hearing the witnesses on 19 June, said the lawyer for the plaintiff Ramzan Ali Sikder.

A few writs await settlement

Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) student Abrar was killed in a bus accident by Suprabhat Paribahan in Nadda area in the capital's Bashundhara area on 19 March. Supreme Court lawyer Ruhul Kuddus filed a writ petition seeking compensation.

On the preliminary hearing, the High Court ordered to pay a million taka to Abrar's family as exigency cost on 20 March. The payment, however, was halted as the transport company appealed to the Appellate Division.

The Appellate Division dismissed the appeal of the transport company.

A Green Line Paribahan bus ran over a driver Russel Sarkar on Mayor Hanif flyover on 28 April last year. Russel lost a leg in the accident. Supreme Court lawyer Umme Kulsum filed a writ petition for compensation of 10 million taka in the accident.

The High Court ordered Green Line Paribahan authorities to pay 5 million taka to Russel as compensation within two weeks in a notice on 12 March.

The company went to the Appellate Division but their appeal was dismissed on 31 March. The transport company was forced to pay Tk 500,000 to Russel on 10 April. Also, the court ordered Green Line to pay the remaining Tk 4.5 million within a month.

The petitioner's lawyer Khandker Shamsul Haq Reza said on Saturday, that no further payment was made. The next hearing for the case in on 15 May, he added.

Two students of Shahid Rameezuddin Cantonment College Abdul Karim (Rajib) and Dia Khanam (Mim) were killed by a bus of Jabal e Noor Paribahan last year on 29 July. In a writ of Supreme Court lawyer Ruhul Kuddus, on 30 July that year, the High Court ordered the transport authorities to pay 500,000 taka to the families of Rajib and Mim to meet the immediate costs.

The families of Rajib and Mim were paid Tk 500,000 to each family, said Ruhul Kuddus.

College student Rajib Hossain lost his hand in a road accident when two buses tried to overtake each other on 3 April and he died nearly after 2 weeks.

In the writ petition filed by lawyer Ruhul Kuddus, on 8 May last year, the High Court ordered compensation of 10 million to be paid to Rajib's two brothers, in which BRTC and Sajan Transport were asked to pay Tk 5 million, Tk 2.5 million each, within a month.
The Appellate Division suspended the order of compensation in favour of the two companies on 22 May last year and ordered the High Court to constitute a liability committee to pay compensation. The committee submitted the report last October. The hearings on the issue continues in the High Court. Lawyer Ruhul Kuddus told Prothom Alo Saturday, the next date for the hearing is on 15 May.

Children's Charity Bangladesh Foundation (CCB Foundation) and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) filed a petition on 3 February, seeking directives including compensation for four deaths, of college student Soma Barua on 16 January, college student Kazi Mahmudur Rahman on 22 January and two children on 28 January.

The High Court ordered interim compensation of 100,000 taka to each of the families on the preliminary hearing. The lawyers of the victims Abdul Halim said the victims’ families are yet to receive the money.
CCB Foundation and Blast filed a writ petition seeking compensation for the deaths of Faiza Tahmina, 10, on 5 February, Miraz Khan, 5, in Kaliakoir of Gazipur on 3 February, Liza Akhter, 9 in Barisal on 2 February, Ahmed Rifat, 6 in Balaganj, Sylhet and a Chittagong University student Nusrat Chowdhury, 23.

The High Court ordered the responsible entities to pay 100,000 taka to each of the families as interim compensation during the first hearing. The families did not receive the amount yet according to the lawyer Abdul Halim.

CCB Foundation and Blast also filed separate writs in deaths of Nabila, a child killed in the capital last year in October and another killing of a 7-day old child. The High Court issued a rule asking why the families would not be paid 5 million taka each as compensation. The rule is yet to be settled.

It is, however, necessary for the victim’s family to receive compensation to overcome the first shock of the death in case the victim is the only earning member of the family, said the director of Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University Of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Md. Mizanur Rahman.

“The compensation is of no use if it is not made on time. Every developed country has the practice to compensate the victims of road accidents. We are dreaming to become a developed country by 2040. We have to ensure compensations to the victims and their families to achieve such goals,” he added.

*The report appeared in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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