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Why we need tort law

  • Published at 12:00 am February 7th, 2019
Accident
Who pays for the damages? SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

Can victims of negligence be compensated? 

Tort law is an area of law which is meant to protect the people from any wrong-doing. The purpose of this law is to ensure that the wrong-doer has to pay damages to the victim. Physical injury falls under the purview of tort law, for example.

“Torts” can occur in various ways. Most of such cases occur due to unawareness and lack of intent on the part of the offender. The case for introducing tort law in Bangladesh is strong, as it stands to improve a lot of the damage and loss of life being dealt through negligence.

Between 2010 and 2011, Abu Salek, a businessman, had misappropriated about Tk18 crore from Sonali Bank’s Cantonment branch. Salek used a fake address to open an account with the bank.

In 2012, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed 33 cases over the misappropriation, and Salek was accused in most of them. Later on, the ACC placed a charge sheet before the court identifying him as Abu Salek -- alias Jaha Alam.

Jute mill worker Jaha Alam spent three years in Kashimpur Central Jail for no offense or misappropriation. The ACC pressed charges before a court identifying him as Abu Salek alias Jaha Alam. He was arrested on February 6, 2016 in Narsingdi. He had been languishing in jail until recently.

On January 28, the HC bench passed the order in a suo moto move following a report published in Prothom Alo with the headline “wrong accused in jail in 33 cases.” A Supreme Court lawyer placed the news report before the HC bench for necessary orders in this regard. On February4, he was released from prison after spending three years in jail without any misappropriation.

It’s good that he has been set free from false imprisonment, but the question is: Can he get back the three years he lost to prison?

Of course, there is no way for him to seek compensation for his false imprisonment, as there are no legal provisions for him to do so. People who are victims of tort can claim compensation on the grounds of pain and suffering, lost wages, earning capacity, and other medical reasons, but, again, no legal provisions are in place for anyone to do so.

Assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, deceit, trespassing, defamation, accidents, and more fall under tort law. And in a country like Bangladesh, where such incidents are incredibly common and frequent, tort law would prove to be indispensable.

Incidents related to tort can happen through intention or negligence. The offender is liable under various laws such as the Fatal Accident Act 1885, Civil Procedure Code 1908(CPC), Criminal Procedure Code 1898(CrPC), Penal Code 1860, Transfer of Property Act 1882, and the constitution.

The victim of tort may get their remedy under these laws. But it is very difficult for the victim to receive any sort of compensation or justice under the current laws. If a codified tort law existed in Bangladesh, the process will become much smoother.

Bangladesh has lots of reasons to enact a specific codified tort law which states the definition of offense, specific compensation for offense, and also defines court procedure like Nari o Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain 2000 and the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006. The codified tort law can cover not only access to justice, but also an assurance to justice. 

Delwar Hossain is a student of law.