“Law and order of the society can be jeopardized even with the existence of written and established law if the government and authority do not carry out their duty to apply it properly and in an unbiased manner.” – Explain and illustrate.
Every society must have some form of order, to sustain for a long time. The form of order however, varies between societies. Law plays an important part in the creating order, and maintaining it. Laws are created in order to guarantee individual rights of the citizens which are essential to their existence. These include the right to life, freedom, thought, speech, conscience etc. However, creation of laws is only the first step towards bringing about order in a society. It is vital to ensure that they are being enforced in order to ensure the prevalence of law and order in a society.
Whether or not laws are being properly enforced is dependent on two factors. Firstly, the citizens of a country have live be ware of the existing laws, and live by them. Secondly, the law enforcement should take the necessary steps towards any act which goes against the laws governing a society.
Amongst the things that will be discussed in this essay are the reasons why law and order of a society could be in jeopardy, and why the authorities do not enforce law properly and without bias.
2. How can law and order be jeopardized even with the existence of a written and established constitution?
In a society, laws are not always written down. Some societies, such as that of the United Kingdom, have no written constitution. In spite of that, it has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. In developed countries crime and corruption is very low when compared to developing countries such as Bangladesh. Bangladesh, in spite of having a parliamentary democracy and a written and established constitution, has been unable to guarantee law and order in its society.
Bangladesh being a developing nation has a vast majority of the population who lie below the level of poverty. For these people, their primary concern is to be able to feed themselves and their family twice a day. They have little or no knowledge about their rights and don’t prefer to invest any time in finding about them either. They know little or nothing about the constitution of Bangladesh, and their basic fundamental rights. As a result such people do not even realize when a law is being broken.
b. Low Literacy Rate
A person’s morals are dependent on his/her education. Having a low literacy rate, most of the rural population has little understanding of right and wrong, let alone their constitutional rights. The do not understand the political system of the country, and prefer whichever party does anything to help aid the poor. In order to understand the constitution, one at least has to be able to read and write. Hence, such people are deprived of their justice.
c. Lack of Social Awareness
There is a lack of social awareness as a result of both poverty and low literacy rate. Knowledge and understanding of the people are limited and they do not know much about how to defend themselves if their rights are violated in any way. They do not know the extent till which they are responsible when a law is broken.
3. Why doesn’t the authority carry out their duty properly and without bias?
As a result of these factors, the application of law on the citizens of Bangladesh is not uniform, most of the times. One of the primary areas of concern today is the violation of the basic human rights of the citizens of Bangladesh. All the citizens do not receive justice from the law enforcement and judiciary system. This is primarily because of external influences.
a. What law is being broken? VS who is breaking the law?
According the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law” (Part III Article 27). However, in our country, rather than “what law is being broken?” and the extent of damage being caused, the more pressing factor is “who is breaking the law?” all individuals do not receive equal treatment from the law officials. This is due to the vast power distance between the various classes of people. A truck driver breaking the traffic signal is not the same thing as the Managing Director of a reputed bank or firm breaking the same rule. As a result, in a developing nation, it is not possible to enforce a law without bias.
b. What is the problem with the law enforcement?
The most important law enforcement agency of Bangladesh is the Bangladesh Police. The Police are divided into – Police Range, District Police Administration, Metropolitan Police, Special Branch (SB), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Railway Police (GRP), Highway Police, Armed Police Battalion (APBn), Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
It is common knowledge to all that the agencies that enforce law take bribes. If not all, most are corrupted. As a result of which most law breakers are not afraid of them, as they know, that if they have some cash, they can buy their freedom. However, one has to have the money to do so. If one is well off, he/she can even pay their way out of a murder. The pressure on the law enforcement is further increased by influential people and political leaders. If they themselves are caught breaking a law, son/daughter/spouse etc, relatives or friends are accused of a crime, their freedom, is just a phone call away. This is how the whole system of corruption works. There are many criminals even, who are protected by financially powerful people who have linkage to political power brokers. These criminal operate under them, and are provided protection from law enforcements, whenever necessary. Many crimes are also disregarded for social and/or political factors.
c. Justice delayed is justice denied (Gladstone 1868).
The majority of the population of Bangladesh consists of poor and needy people, who face a lot of difficulty in receiving justice. They have trouble funding their cases at the Supreme and District Court. The procedure to fight cases is expensive and lengthy. The minimum amount of money required to fight a case in the sub-district court was Tk.16, 511 and a maximum of Tk.1, 76,000 (Arafunnesa 1992:27). In the district court the expense is even higher than this. There are thousands of cases in the Supreme Court, that are awaiting justice, and this number is increasing everyday. It is estimated that the number of cases awaiting trial or adjudication will take over 100 years to clear up unless something extraordinary is done immediately! (Mintoo 2004:136).
d. Why take bribes?
All the members of the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary system are not corrupted, but sadly, most are. Now, the question that arises is that, why do these law enforcement officers and judiciary officials take bribes? At initial stages taking bribes sort of becomes a necessity for the police. The money that is allocated in the annual budget of the government for the police force is not enough. Police officers do not earn enough to look after themselves and their family. Hence the temptation to get some easy money is extremely high. Taking bribes has become the norm in our society. It is such a common thing that, the police don’t even have to ask the law breaker for it. They themselves slip in some money into their pockets, without paying much attention to being discrete. Some officers even take advantage of their power, and arrest people for slight breach, simply to take bribes. If people are not able to pay them, they get arrested. The judiciary extremely neglected by the government. They lack the right kind of funding and protection. As a result, the incentive to influence them increases. As per surveys, 63% of the respondents said that they bribed judiciary officials (70% in cash and 50% in face to face transactions); almost 90% said that it was almost impossible to get a fair judgment without monetary influence (Chodosh, 2005).
e. Increase in the number of custodial deaths and extra judicial killings
According to various news articles and reports, custodial deaths and extra judicial killings are increasing day by day. According to the data compiled, in 2008, 175 extra-judicial killings took place, compared to 180 in 2007. The numbers of killings without arrest in 2007 were 81 and it increased in 2008 and was 127. The killings further increased in 2009 and the number rose up to 229 killings by the law enforcing agencies of the state (Ain O Salish Kendra’s documentation, 2008).
Not only are the killings increasing, the authority is also taking steps in an attempt to blind sight the citizens of Bangladesh. Such an example would be the police stopping a photo exhibition from taking place in Drik Gallery, Dhaka. On the 22nd of March 2010, an exhibition titled “crossfire” was supposed to be held. Without any previous notice the police closed down this exhibition about extra judicial killings. Drik wanted to raise public awareness regarding this matter, and failed to do so. This act carried out by the Police Force was a gross violation of “Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech” (Article 39, Bangladesh Constitution).
There are several cases of extra judicial killings, such as that of Lutfor Rahman and his younger brother Khairul Haque, who were arrested on November 13, 2009, by the RAB, and killed in a ‘shootout’ with RAB on 16th November 2009, (The Daily Star, November 2009). The law enforcements and judiciary system are not providing any opportunities to these victims of being in front of justice. The authorities behave as though they are above the law. They are even getting away with murder. And in none of the cases regarding these extra judicial killings was any mention of the any legal proceedings being carried out. These cases have never been looked into by any authority and nothing had ever been proved, and therefore no one had been punished. Such killings in the name of ‘shootout’
‘encounters’ is a gross violation of basic Fundamental Rights. These acts go against:
Article 27: “Equality before law”; Article 31: “Right to protection of law”; Article 32: “Right to life and personal liberty”; and Article 35: “Protection in respect of trial and punishment” – of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
In spite of the existence of laws which have been created for the protection of the citizens of Bangladesh, the recent data indicate nothing but the vulnerability of the Bangladeshi people. The members of the law enforcing agencies, who take an oath to protect the people of the nation, are the ones engaging themselves in extra judicial killings, custodial deaths. The lack of proof regarding these matters is only removing whatever little trust that the people have left in the judiciary system.
d. Being a witness of any crime is a hassle for most people
Often Primary witnesses of crimes back out at the last moment as they consider it to be a hassle. They are sometimes afraid to speak up against a powerful individual and do not wish to get caught up in legal matters. Not only is the matter time consuming, but it puts the life of the witness in danger. They are afraid to walk alone in streets and don’t feel safe even in their own homes. Even police custody is not safe for them. As influential individuals can bribe the police constables and get the witness killed, making it look like an accident.
e. Political Violence
The elevation in violence and corruption has resulted from political issues. Violence is not only limited to the streets and personal property. It has spread into educational institutions such as universities as well. Campus violence has become very common. The political parties aid such movements for their own gain. These conflicts become rather violent and make use of weapons. This not only results in killings of several young students, but also disrupts the overall education system.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has also found the law enforcement agencies and government officials as the most corrupt in the world. The boundary of corruption has started from the law enforcement and judiciary system and spread to even the educational and health institutions.
4. Bangladesh raises concern worldwide
In spite of making great socio-economic progress, its law and order situation continues to deteriorate. The country is ranked 17th amongst the 60 countries that may end up having a violent internal conflict (Foreign Policy, 2005, p-56). On of the key factors behind this failing is the inability of the authority to carry out their responsibilities and enforce law and order. As we have seen in this paper, the present law and order situation, has resulted in weakening of governance, violence in the name of politics, violation of civil rights, and corruption. As per research, by TIB, the corruption trends confirm concerns raised by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Amnesty International. If such trends continue, and law enforcements are unable to fulfill their roles, the country will continue to lose millions of dollars and have a low GDP rate. As per the analysis of World Bank, the country’s GDP would be 2% higher, if corruption could be minimized.
5. Law enforcement requires changes
In or to increase police efficiency, the police need to have a good understanding of the community and the community need to understand the role of the police force. The problem with Bangladesh is that every issue relating to the police is always turned into a political matter. Such issues need to be looked on to.
The major areas which need to be changed are:
- The engagement of the public themselves in preventing crime needs to be lowered.
- Justice should be more readily accessible.
- The problems in areas of crime investigation and prosecution need to be solved.
- The administration, training, development and overall activities of the police need to be looked on to.
- Law and order should not be politicized.
- External influences should b reduced.
Having laws is only one step towards reducing crime. Application of these laws is what is more important. For this the police need to carry out their duty in a proper manner. Police should be made independent in solving crime, and the level of political involvement should be reduced. Law and order is not a political matter. This issue requires change and can only be done by an establishing effective crime solving strategies. The human resource management recruitment and promotion system requires transparency. Only when all this is done can law and order be applied effectively.
With the restoration of the parliamentary democracy, the people of the country expected good governance on part of he government. Instead, the government was politicizing everything. It has not been able to perform the very basic functions, of ensuring law and order, providing justice to the people and collecting revenue form all citizens. In any nation, law and order is the foundation of stability. It is an essential element for a safer and confident community. When this is achieved it will leads to development and the reduction of poverty. Bangladesh has gone through a lot of difficult situations after the war of independence, and is quite stable in that aspect, but the political issues provoke the country’s ability towards improvement in all aspects of the society. Only when these issues are looked on to can the country’s wish to be a liberal democracy be materialized.
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 When a command is given by a superior it refers to order. The command must be obeyed, and could be given by a law enforcement officer or a military officer.
 A set of rules or guidelines imposed by an authority or governing body is known as law.
Maintaining Law and order refers to following the rules provided by the governing body so as to suppress violence and crime.
 Bangladesh has a literacy rate of less than 40%. An important point to be noticed is that while calculating the literacy rate, the people who are able to write their full name are considered literate.
 Bangladesh operates administration of justice at the district and central levels. At the centre is there is the Supreme Court which is divided into the High Court Division and Supreme Court Division. Most cases tried at the court originate at the district level. The High Court Division hears appeals from the District Courts and also tries original cases. Appeals of judgment from the High Court Division are reviewed by the Appellate division of Supreme Court.
 See, Singh, 2009, P-18
 On November 13, 2009, two men had been arrested by the RAB. Two days after they had been taken into custody, they were killed in a shootout with RAB in Shirkhara village in Madaripur. Following the arrest, Lutfor’s wife and son spoke at a press conference, and claimed that protocol was not followed and the 2 arrestees were not handed over to the police. Not just that, the authorities did not give them any formation about their whereabouts. They were worried that the arrestees may be taken on the false plea of recovering illegal arms and made victims of encounter killing. Sadly, their worst fears came true.
 Equality before law: All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law (Article 27).
 Right to protection of law: To enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with law, and only in accordance with law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh, and in particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law (Article 31).
 Right to life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty saves in accordance with law (Article 32).
 Protection in respect of trial and punishment: (1) No person shall be convicted to any offence except for violation of al law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than, or different from that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence (2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once (3) Every person accused of a criminal offence shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law (4) No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself (5) No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment (6) Nothing in clause (3) or clause (5) shall affect
the operation of any existing law which prescribes any punishment or procedure for trial (Article 35)
 Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), accredited national chapter of Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), began its activities as a Trust in 1996. In 1998 it obtained the approval of the Government of Bangladesh for registration as a non-governmental organisation. TIB has since been working as a catalyst of social movement against corruption. It has elaborate research and advocacy programmers’ for policy change and institutional reform for creating conditions for reducing corruption and promoting good governance in Bangladesh.