High Court
High CourtFile photo

The incident of taking rapid legal action against Irfan Salim, the son of ruling Awami League’s MP Haji Md. Salim, is mostly discussed in the country's national news media and social media at the moment. This is not the only reason that the son of an influential ruling party MP has been arrested and sentenced by a mobile court for possessing illegal items such as arms, drugs, walkie-talkies, etc. Rather, the reason for the discussion is also that the MP's son Irfan faced this consequence for assaulting a naval officer on the street the night before his arrest.

One of the mixed reactions to the incident on social media and in the civil society is that the man Irfan Salim and his men attacked on the street that night was incidentally a member of one of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. The general idea of people is that no actions would have been taken so quickly if the assaulted person had been a member of general people. This trend can be seen in the common picture of applying law against committing crimes and criminals in Bangladesh. Even if a politically powerful person, their children and relatives in this country commit a serious criminal offence, the law is not properly applied against them. The term ‘culture of impunity’, which is widely used, is closely related to political power.

Advertisement

In this country, the political power is now in the hands of the ruling political party. A section of leaders and activists of this party, its front and associate bodies at all levels nurtured a firm self-confidence that they have risen above all the existing laws and regulations of the country. They feel they don't have to face trial and punishment for committing crimes and wrongdoings. The reason of their such confidence is genuine: the legal actions for committing crimes by them are stopped; the police stations do not become active; lawsuits against them are not accepted; if cases are ever filed, investigation is not carried out, charge sheets are not made and above all the law does not take its normal course. As a result, Narayanganj or Faridpur, Feni and Lakshmipur turn into a 'paradise of criminal activities' and names of a section of leaders of the ruling party, their sons, brothers and nephews are associated with these districts.

Due to political obstacles in the application of law, various types of crime, including murder and rape, are on the rise from the capital to remote rural areas.

If the ruling political camp had a sincere respect and commitment to the of law, the law could have worked equally everywhere. But the government is not doing so and people notice it with open eyes. The occasional sudden arrest and sentencing Irfan Salim cannot restore the confidence of the people that an instance of rule of law was got. As it is an incident of a selective application of law, which is called 'selective justice' in English.

Earlier, the incident of legal action against the policemen involved in the killing of a former army officer in Cox's Bazar is also an exceptional case. In both cases, quick applications of law raise hopes for justice. But, the rule of law cannot be established through selective applications of the law. All are equal in the eyes of the law. We have to advance on the road of proper application of law defying all influences including political, economic and institutional. There is no alternative to it.

Advertisement