Wednesday, 19 January 2011

HC issues suo moto on ship scrapping

The High Court on Wednesday issued a suo moto rule directing the government to stop scrapping of ships in the country until further order following Tuesday's explosion at a ship-breaking yard in Chittagong that killed four people.

An HC division bench ordered the authorities concerned to relocate the exploded ship to a secured place and also issued a contempt of court rule against the owner of the shipyard.

It also directed to keep the ships, which were already imported for breaking, at such places so that those can be relocated in a short notice, and the officials concerned of customs and port authority can easily visit those ships.

The court prohibited unloading materials from those ships until further order.

It ordered the chairman of Chittagong port authority to form a committee with three expert officials within seven days to investigate the reasons behind the fatal incident.

The committee has to probe whether there was lacking of safety measures or any violation of this court’s order over scrapping ships.

The committee will also investigate what measures have been taken to prevent such accidents in future, and whether any negligent person has been brought to book or the victims were compensated.

The bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the contempt of court rule against Master Abul Kashem, owner of the shipyard and also Vice-President of the Ship Breakers Owners Association.

The HC asked him to explain within two weeks why he should not be punished on charge of committing contempt of court by breaking ships at his shipyard despite the HC restrictions.

The court ordered him to appear before it on January 28 for explanation.

The court came up with the order following the news published on The Daily Star on Wednesday with a headline “Tragedy at Ship-breaking Yard Again: Blast kills 4 workers”.

It also noticed, this court is not against the import and breaking ships, but those ships have to be free from any risk for health and security.

In another order, the same bench also issued a rule upon the government to explain within two weeks why it should not be directed to allow four imported ships, now in outer anchor in Chittagong, to enter into the inner anchor.

This rule came following four separate writ petitions filed by three ship breaking companies, seeking direction from the court on the government to allow the four ships in outer anchor to enter into the inner anchor.

The ship breakers have filed the petitions earlier this month.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) has opposed the petitions, saying that those four ships are not safe, as they have no pre-cleaning and environmental certificates.
Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud and Advocate Anisul Huq appeared for ship breakers, while Advocate Syed Rizwana Hasan and Advocate Iqbal Kabir Lytton argued for Bela

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