Although protecting customer rights is of the utmost importance, we should make sure due process is being followed at all times
In mobile court drives across the capital in recent months, numerous businesses, including pharmacies and retail outlets, have been shut down or fined for irregularities in their products and services.
While a mechanism is certainly needed to monitor irregularities such as selling expired medicine, and for penalizing offenders, the mobile court system in Bangladesh, as it stands, is flawed and unfair -- although protecting customer rights is of the utmost importance, we should make sure due process is being followed at all times.
The sad fact is, executive magistrates have plenty of scope to abuse their power, and that does not bode well: A single individual should not have the power to play the roles of plaintiff, investigator, and judge.
It is no surprise that a number of magistrates in charge of mobile courts have, over time, been accused of behavioural misconduct.
Magistrates, have, at times, bullied or extorted people, and used the authority of the mobile courts for money or personal gain -- these magistrates have also been known to dole out unrealistic punishments, such as demand the immediate payment of fines without allowing the defendant to plead their case, let alone appeal the decision.
Simply put, the system of dispensing verdicts in such a hasty manner without allowing for business entities to plead their case is a flawed system, and one that makes even legitimate, law-abiding businesses vulnerable to the whims of certain people in positions of power.
We must recognize that our version of mobile courts do not serve justice, and move towards a process that is fairer and more transparent. No system that does not include the right to defend oneself in a meaningful way or to appeal one’s conviction can possibly serve justice.