Mobile Court in Bangladesh
- What is Mobile Court?
Ans: A Mobile Court is a special Court established in Bangladesh under the Mobile Court Act, 2009 (Act No. 59 of 2009).
- How many sections and schedules are there in the Mobile Court Act,2009?
Ans: There are 17 sections in the Act and one schedule.
- Who will be the judge of Mobile Court?
Ans: An executive Magistrate (commonly from admin cadre services of Bangladesh) that means Assistant Commissioner (AC) of the district administration or any person with the equivalent or superior rank in the services (e.g. ADC or DC of the district to be known as ADM or DM or the DG of various departments such as BSTI or DoE or BRTA etc,) empowered bythe Govt. in official gazette notification entitled to work as judge of the Mobile Court.
- What is the jurisdiction of the Mobile Court?
Ans: Mobile Court has maximum 02 years imprisonment power. There are 110 laws included in the schedule of the Act, 2009. So, a Mobile Court can adjudicate any offence stated in those laws. Although there are various punishments stated in those laws, Mobile Court cannot impose punishments for more than two years but amount of fine shall vary depending on the laws.
- What is the procedure of the trial in the Mobile Court?
Ans: Mobile Court is a moving court like circuit court of the British era. Mobile Court can declare any place as court for its trial. It works on the basis of information provided by police or govt. sources or individual allegation by any person or from its own source by suomotu. Police and law enforcing agencies shall assist the Court in discharging its functions. The Court convicts a person based on the confessional statements of the accused. When an accused is punished based on instant test results related to adulteration of food or drugs or other elements against which or by which offence was committed also raises questions regarding authenticity of the test results. There is no Lawyer or legal counsel to assist the accused. A person may confess his guilty under pressure or coercion or threat or undue influence or by fraud etc, and as such the trial may be biased. But the Mobile Court enjoys popular support due to its quick response and ending the trial in one sitting.
- Where to lodge an appeal against the judgement of Mobile Court?
Ans: If any judgement is passed by Assistant Commissioner as a judge of the Mobile Court appeal shall lie to the DC as DM who shall send/refer the matter to ADC/ADM for hearing and adjudication. When the trial shall be conducted by the DC/DM(district Magistrate) or ADC/ADM(Additional District Magistrate), an appeal shall lie before the District/Metropolitan Sessions Judge. A revision can also be filed before superior or higher court as well. The Court shall follow proceedings of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 mutatis mutandis (i.e. as far as possible).
- Whether the functions of Mobile Court are against justice and Rule of Law?
Ans: It is a crucial question. A case is now pending before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh challenging the validity of the Mobile Court Act, 2009. The judges of the Court is not educated in Law (i.e. commonly not a formal law degree holder). The proceedings of the Court are also not following the procedure of collection of evidences as stated in the Evidence Act, 1872. Many argues that Mobile Court is against the spirit of separation of judiciary or the judgement of ‘Masdar Hossain Case’. However, the administration cadre service holders considers Mobile Court essential for maintaining law and order and for ensuring safety and security of the people. It is considered as essential for safeguarding public property and public interest. However, sometimes it conflicts with criminal justice system and may cause ‘double-jeopardy’ and inequal treatment of the accused for committing the same offence but tried in separate forum.
(Dr.Ahamuduzzaman, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh & founder of ain-qanoon/10.02.2019)