A recent announcement made by the Madaripur Deputy Commissioner (DC) created mixed reactions among the people. One of the two decisions was that teenager and young students cannot stay out after dusk. The second decision was there will be no televisions at tea stalls and that seized valuable assets will be destroyed. Many may think that both decisions are good for society. In response to the question, the DC claimed that she has the power to take such action under the law. It is wrong to claim to have power. Under the law, public servants do not have powers, they have jurisdiction. They are public servants in the public interest.
A case was filed against several officials, including the DC, for setting fire to four dredger machines used for landfills. The court dismissed it, but the prevailing law does not support the destruction of illegal or confiscated property by anyone's verbal order. On 26 November, the plaintiff in the case told us that he had not received any notice neither was any drive by mobile court conducted. The matter demands a judicial inquiry.
It is within the DC's jurisdiction to restrict the movement of people considering the law and order and pandemic situation. But the decision has many dimensions. The Infectious Diseases Act can control the movement of people. But a specific notification has to be issued mentioning that. In the public interest, everyone has the right to freedom of movement, subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law. Apart from this, whatever other reason is shown, it will not be constitutional. The DC may supervise whether the hygiene requirements are being met in the tea shops. The right of the people to recreation and mobility cannot be infringed upon for unreasonable reasons and in the process.
The government must explain why tea shops all over the country, even in the districts around Madaripur, can keep television but not in Madaripur. The decision could be taken at a meeting on law and order in the conference room of Shibchar Upazila Parishad. But a person’s statement cannot be made law. Apart from that, the DC's statement seems to be more concerned with social ethics and law and order situation than the virus outbreak. She needed to consult with the police administration of Madaripur is important in this regard. But we have found that many in the district administration disagree on this issue.
If the DC specifically wants to prevent 'mobile gambling', she will have to seek the help of a police cyber team. It is a very complex technical issue. Illegal gambling on mobile phones is a concern and must be stopped. But the DC needs to understand that physical presence is not essential for gambling on a mobile phone. Teachers and parents need counseling to stop chatting instead of studying. The major question is how realistic it is to ask students over the age of 18 to be escorted by their parents after dusk.
She said, “I will campaign for a few days, then I will go into action”. Thus, the idea of undermining the freedom of movement of citizens and assembling unarmed on the basis of an indefinite and seemingly personal opinion of a DC or anyone else in the republic is worrisome. We must support the general concerns of students or young people about ethics and character development, including their focus on studies. Such problems are not limited in just one area. So all preventive measures in this regard must be legal.