When there is a death or injury from a road accident, families of the victims are requested to go to the Motor Vehicles Accident Claim Tribunal to claim their compensation, but most of them cannot find or locate the tribunal easily. A common question is asked: “Where is the tribunal?”
Although the Motor Vehicles Ordinance requires the formation of a tribunal, it has not been formed yet, said lawyers.
If that was formed, the current tendency among powerful people to treat the traffic cases lightly would not have happened, they said.
Laying emphasis on bringing changes to the laws, experts said the instructions provided in the existing laws regarding compensation is not properly implemented in the country.
According to We Demand Safe Roads (Nischa), 4,144 people were killed and 5,255 sustained injuries from road accidents in 2016 in Bangladesh. The number of deaths from road accidents were 5,003, including some renowned personalities in 2015.
Although a significant number of people are losing their lives from road accidents, the incidents of families receiving compensation from such casualties are rare.
The Daily Sangbad News Editor Mozammel Hossain Montu was killed after being hit by a vehicle belonging to Bangladesh Beverage Industries Ltd in Motijheel, Dhaka, in 1989. The High Court in 2010 ordered Tk2.01 crore to be paid in compensation.
However, the family has still not received a penny over his death.
Recently, the High Court ordered Tk4.62 crore in damages to be paid to the family of acclaimed filmmaker Tareque Masud, who was killed when a bus collided with his vehicle in 2011.
With its observation, the court said there was a provision for setting up a tribunal in each district as per the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983.
But the provision was not implemented and thus, the families cannot go to tribunals to seek their compensation. If the tribunal comes into effect, aggrieved people can get the chance to file cases there.
With its verdict, High Court said the number of casualties from road accident is high in the country because of reckless driving. We have a law titled ‘Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983’ but affected people have never come to the court because of their lack of knowledge of the courts. However, this verdict would pave the way for them to come and seek help from the court in future.
Supreme Court lawyer Ramzan Ali Sikder said the issues related to compensation would be much easier if the Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Tribunal comes into effect.
When asked what can be done now since there is no tribunal yet, the lawyer said people can visit the District Judges Court with necessary documents to file a case, since the tribunal has not been formed.
Abdullah Abu, chief public prosecutor of Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s Court, said it would be much easier to resolve motor vehicle accident-related crimes swiftly if the tribunal is formed.
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua said the offences related to road accidents fall under section 304 of the Penal Code.
Not all road accidents are because of negligence, sometimes there are cases of intentional crime as well, he said.
“There is no implementation of the compensation related instruction given in the existing act. In many cases, law enforcing agencies are unwilling to see the traffic related crimes as a crime. Also, the powerful people do not have the tendency to take these matters seriously,” said Barua.
If there is a tribunal, these matters would be taken seriously, he said. Since emotional trauma is not taken into consideration, the law needs to be changed to take these matters into account, he added.
When asked, law minister Anisul Huq said he could comment on the matter after enquiring whether the tribunal was formed or not.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune