A disaster averted

Holding public servants accountable is one of the cornerstones of democracy

There is an argument to be made in asserting that one of the fundamental issues still plaguing our public administration is a gross lack of accountability. Which is a shame since for someone to be a “public servant” means that they are at the behest of the public at large.

Which is why it is incredibly refreshing to see the High Court striking down a provision that would require prior permission being sought from higher authorities in arresting government employees. The court, in an observation, has said that the provision of prior permission to arrest government officials is illegal and against the constitution and fundamental rights.

For such a provision to have been formulated in the first place is perhaps emblematic of a deep malaise that runs within our administrative ranks, which leads far too many of our public servants to believe that they are above the law, or in this case the Constitution.

When public servants are given unchecked power, it does not take long for it to be abused. A good case in point would be the wrongful incarceration of Dhaka Tribune’s own district correspondent Ariful Islam two years ago, who was abducted and tortured by Kurigram Deputy Commissioner Sultana Pervin in a gross misuse of state power.

Reason, of course, ultimately prevailed as the deputy commissioner was withdrawn from her post shortly thereafter.

Holding our public servants accountable is one of the cornerstones of a working democracy. We are glad to see that reason ultimately does prevail and that the High Court has rightfully struck down such a potentially disastrous provision from taking up any space within our legal framework, rightfully placing it where it belongs: In the ash heap of history.