The judge sentenced two drivers Masum Billah and Zobair Sumon, and helper Kazi Asad of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan to life imprisonment
People are killed on the roads due to the callousness of drivers and helpers, said a Dhaka court on Sunday in its observation while pronouncing the verdict on the deaths of college students Rajib and Dia who died in a tragic road accident last year.
"Drivers should be more careful while driving. Traffic police should also be stricter and more responsible so that no one can drive heavy vehicles with the licence for light vehicles," said Judge KM Imrul Qayes.
The judge sentenced two drivers Masum Billah and Zobair Sumon, and helper Kazi Asad of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan to life imprisonment in a case filed over the deaths of college students Abdul Karim Rajib and Dia Khanam Mim.
The court also ordered the authorities concerned to issue an arrest warrant against absconding helper Asad.
Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge KM Imrul Qayes on Sunday pronounced the verdict acquitting owner Jahangir Alam and helper Enayet of the transport company as allegations brought against them could not be proved.
However, one of the Jabal-e-Noor bus owners got acquitted in the verdict. The trial proceedings of another bus owner have been postponed as per the High Court's directives.
The court observed that the incident touched the heart of the nation and that the bus owners are also responsible for this situation as the owners put undue pressure on drivers and helpers to pay more. For this reason, the drivers are seen engaging in dangerous competition with each other for additional trips, leading to fatal accidents.
The court mentioned that the drivers and helpers drive vehicles roughly only for making extra money without showing minimum honour to the passengers. From elderly to younger people, none can escape from their careless and reckless driving.
They drive heavy vehicles without having any valid licence from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.
Bus owners should fix a minimum daily wage for drivers and helpers so that they do not compete for getting more passengers.
As transport owners have to pay less, they allow drivers with the licence for light vehicles to drive heavy vehicles, said the judge. That is why, the number of accident and causalities are increasing on the roads.
If the traffic police and law enforcers check the driving licences regularly, the drivers could not get the scope to drive heavy vehicles with light license permit, observed the judge.
The court also showed respect to the veteran road safety activist and actor Elias Kanchan, who has been relentlessly trying to bring a positive change on the roads.
Judge KM Imrul Qayes also mentioned, "They (student protesters) showed us, why we should be more careful on road safety issues".
"Drivers should respect the law," the judge concluded.
Earlier, the parliament passed the Road Transport Act, 2018, on September 19 last year, following the student movement. President Abdul Hamid approved the law on October 9 the same year.
The government was scheduled to enforce the Road Transport Act-2018 from November 1. A taskforce led by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan was also formed to curb road accidents and bring discipline in the transport sector.
Due to the protest of the transport workers, the taskforce was slow to implement the new Road Transport Act which is scheduled to be implemented from July 1 the next year.
Mim's father Jahangir Alam, who was once a bus driver, said they were satisfied with the verdict.
"I have lost my daughter; I hope none will ever face the situation. They [drivers] are not drivers, I will remember them as killers," he said with agony.
Deceased Rajib's brother Mehrab told The Business Standard, "We did not know about the schedule of the verdict. The state lawyer should have informed us so that we could be present in the courtroom."
He also expressed satisfaction over the verdict and said the transport owners should also be responsible for these kinds of accidents.
"At least, they should compensate," Mehrab said.
Abdus Salam, the pleader of acquitted bus owner, mentioned accused Jahangir Alam was not involved in the incident and he was innocent. The court acquitted him lawfully.
In the case, a total of 37 out of 41 witnesses have been testified before the court.
Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib, first-year students of the Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College, were killed and 10-15 others wounded as a bus of 'Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan' ploughed through some students in front of Kurmitola General Hospital on July 29 in 2018.
Their tragic end on road angered the students across the country, including Dhaka, and they took to the streets protesting the incident, demanding safer roads and seeking exemplary punishment for the persons responsible for the accident.
Victim Mim's father Jahangir Alam, later, lodged a case with the Dhaka Cantonment police station in this connection.
Kazi Shariful Islam, an investigation officer of the case and inspector of detectives, submitted charge sheet against the accused before the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court on September 6, 2018.
The High Court stayed the trial proceedings against another bus owner Shahdat Hossain, now on bail, on November 7 last year.
On September 6 last year, Inspector Kazi Shariful Islam of the Detective Branch of police submitted charge-sheet to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Dhaka against the accused.
The Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court of Dhaka framed charges against them on October 25 and the trial began on November 1.
Life term accused person's pleader Hasim Uddin said, "We did not get justice through this judgment. The court punished the accused only based on the confessional statement 164 of the accused and also student movement. We will go to the upper court after getting full judgment.''
He also mentioned that the court did not examine any eye witness.
On the other hand, the government pleader and public prosecutor Abu Abdulla mentioned that the state defence proved the case against the accused and the road sector would be disciplined through this judgment.