Experts said most issues come to the court in the light of failures on the part of the government
In February 2019, the High Court directed the authorities concerned of the government to take action against loan defaulters after a public interest litigation had been filed in this connection.
The court asked the Bangladesh Bank to submit a list of defaulters who had took thousands of crores of taka in loans from public and private banks.
The Bangladesh Bank is the proper authority to take action against the loan defaulters. But it takes action only after a court order, some officials concerned said.
In recent times, many public interest litigations have been filed with the High Court, seeking remedy against different issues of public interest.
Experts said most issues come to the court in the light of failures on the part of the government.
The rule of law would be in question if the situation continues, they noted.
In November 2019, the High Court ordered a judicial investigation into the causes behind the authorities' failures to control the outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya across the country.
The court also directed the authorities concerned to take effective steps to eradicate Aedes mosquitos – responsible for the spread of dengue fever – from the capital.
That time the court said, "The government cannot avoid its responsibility for failing to control dengue."
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder told The Business Standard, "No issue comes to the court unless the authorities concerned fail in resolving that. The court is the last resort."
Ali Imam Majumder said sometimes the High Court directs the government authorities to perform their duties properly.
He said the court is being bound to act like this spontaneously in many issues because of failures on the part of the proper authorities.
"The authorities do not take action without getting a directive from the court. It has been a common nature. In many cases, the court is doing the job of an executive."
"If this system continues, the state policy and the rule of law would be in question," he added.
In June 2019, the High Court had ordered the government for taking necessary steps to prevent unnecessary caesarean sections.
The court also directed the Directorate General of the Health Services to formulate guidelines to stop unnecessary caesarean operation within the next six months.
Writ petitioner's lawyer Rashna Imam told The Business Standard, "According to the World Health Organisation, only 10-15 percent of pregnant women need a caesarean operation. But in Bangladesh, the number is more than 31 percent."
Citing a Save the Children report, the lawyer said between 2017 and 2018, caesarean operations in Bangladesh increased by 51 percent.
Rashna Imam said the government should have taken action against unnecessary caesarean operations.
The Jahalam case was an awakening moment concerning the inaction of the government agencies.
Jahalam, a jute mill worker, had been listed as an accused in 26 wrongful loan fraud cases by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). He languished in jail for three years without justice.
But nobody of the government stood for Jahalam. The High Court ordered the authorities concerned to free Jahalam from jail after filing of a public interest litigation with the court.
Petitioner's lawyer Monjil Morshed said, "Many issues can be solved by the executive body of the government. But I moved to the High Court for the release of Jahalam because of its failures."
Legal experts said the High Court has to intervene in all the matters owing to the failures of the government bodies to perform their duties.
Constitution expert Dr Shahdin Malik said, "According to our constitution, the government is entitled to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens."
He said all the matters are coming to the High Court due to the negligence of the proper authorities.
Among others, public interest litigations had been filed with the High Court, seeking directives to ban 52 adulterated and substandard products, declare motorcycle riding on footpaths illegal, preserve the historical site in Suhrawardi Udyan, determine the age of freedom fighters and also fix their retirement age in government services, install fire extinguishers in vehicles, stop mixing chemicals with fruits, and declare river occupants disqualified in participating in elections and taking bank loans.
ABM Khairul Haque, chairman of the Bangladesh law Commission and former chief justice, said, "Public interest litigation is now helpful in protecting the human rights of disadvantaged and backward people. It helps improve the judiciary as a domestic model in the human rights justice system."
But nowadays the Supreme Court has been facing disruption in performing its normal duties as every matter is coming to the court, he said.
"It is high time to take proper steps to ensure accountability of the government functionaries, particularly the executive body," added Khairul Haque.