The High Court has directed the government to halt the cutting of trees at historic Suhrawardy Udyan.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman passed the order on Tuesday, following a contempt of court petition.Deforestation in the name of beautification of the historic park and construction of shops and restaurants drew widespread criticism from the environmentalists and lawyers.
Supreme Court lawyer and Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh president Manzill Murshid filed the petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against the government officials concerned for ignoring a previous order of the HC to protect the sanctity of the liberation war-related historic sites, including Suhrawardy Udyan. The HC slapped the ban on cutting trees at Suhrawardy Udyan in an interim order as the contempt petition will be heard on May 20.
The court asked Attorney General AM Amin Uddin to convey the order to the government authorities.
“Our order is that the hearing will come before this court on May 20,” said Justice Mamnoon Rahman, senior judge of the bench. The attorney general “should tell them, verbally, not to cut any trees in the meantime”.
In reply, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin said: “I will speak to them immediately.”
Manzill Murshid brought a ‘contempt of court’ allegation against Liberation War Affairs Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Public Works Department Chief Engineer Mohammad Shamim Akhter and Architecture Department Chief Architect Mir Manzurur Rahman.On Tuesday, the HC held a preliminary hearing to discuss as to whether the officials have committed contempt of court or not.
Earlier, on May 6, Manzill Murshid served legal notice to the government to stop felling trees at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan within 48 hours.
Secretary of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department Mohammad Shamim Akhtar and Chief Architect Mir Manjur Rahman of the Department of Architecture were made respondents to the legal notice. The lawyer referred to a High Court order passed in this regard in 2009 following a writ petition filed by him.
In the order, a division bench comprising Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice Md Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed directed the government officials concerned to preserve the historic places of speech of Pakistan’s first governor-general Mohammed Ali Jinnah delivered on March 21, 1948, speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on February 23, 1969, oath of newly-elected members of the national and provincial councils on January 3, 1971, speech of Bangabandhu on March 7, 1971, surrender of Pakistani forces on December 16, 1971, speech of the then President and Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on January 10, 1972, and speech of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on March 17, 1972.
The HC asked for detecting the spots of the above historic incidents, constructing pillar and preserving the sanctity of the sites.
The apex court also directed the government to form a committee to identify the sites and implement its directives.
Bringing any change in the historic sites in the pretext of beautification and felling trees are an infringement of the apex court order, Manzil Murshid opined.