In service life, the position or rank is a different matter. The chief identity of the position holder is that he is a human being. A healthy person or a man is not a living being like that of a tree or any other animal. The greatest possession of man is not his intelligence but his conscience.
A slave is compelled to follow the unjust order of his master. Although the slave is subservient, he has judgment which bites him. That biting causes bleeding in his heart. He is bound to tolerate the untold pain of the bleeding. But an official of a present state is not a slave-like subjugated person; although there are certain legal bindings, he has no obstacle in carrying out his responsibility independently. A civil servant, if he is punished for a criminal offence, can be dismissed, discharged or degraded in rank. But as long as he is not given chances to show cause for his alleged action, he can not be dismissed or removed or degraded.’ (Ninth Chapter, Section 135, Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh).
If a government official is found to show negligence in carrying out his responsibility or he is accused of being involved in any unjust action, inquiry committee is formed against him. The task of the investigation committee is to submit report to the concerned authority after the collection and analysis of preliminary information. Afterwards there may be departmental case. If anyone is found to be guilty by the trial court, the minimum punishment is condemnation and the maximum penalty is the dismissal or discharge from the service. If the accused thinks that he has not received equitable justice, he can then submit an appeal to the special tribunal. But it is highly unjust to hush up an allegation without trial brought against anybody. In our society inquiry of allegations brought against the civil servants serving in Administration is done by their colleagues in the Administration and the task of the investigation of complaints against the Police falls on the Police officials. As a result, the transparency and neutrality of these reports beget doubts in public minds. People never had any confidence in the inquiry reports prepared by the government officials; that is why, they demand for a judicial inquiry. Now-a-days people have also no faith in it. Want of confidence has a reasonable ground. A single example would suffice. The responsibility of doing inquiry on 21 August grenade attack in the public meeting of Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was given to a Justice. I wrote in this column about the reports that the submitted inquiry report would have defeated the story of the detective novel of Nihar Ranjan Gupta. In the history of inquiry Committees of Bangladesh this Abedinean report stands as a black document.
The Jalianwalabag massacre, 1919 in Amritsar annexed a new dimension in politics of this Sub-Continent. For the inquiry of this barbarous carnage brought about on the order of General Dyer. An Inquiry Committee was formed with the leadership of Lord Hunter. The government refused to accept any representative of the Congress or of the Muslim League. In this Committee the Indian members were Sir Chimanlal Sitalbad, Pandit Jagat Narayan and Shahebjada Sultan Ahmed Khan. Sir Chimanlal wrote in his book “Recollections and Reflections” Committee Chairman Hunter was a vainglorious and an ill-tempered person. Once being annoyed he said, ‘you want to drive the English people from India’. At that time, these persons had backbone. Chinanlal in reply said, ‘the desire of the Indians to become free from the foreign domination is lawful. Gaining of independence through mutual understanding is possible but if the British government sends impatient and imprudent persons like you and Dyer as representatives, the people then would be compelled to take proper measures to drive you out.’ Consequently three Indian members stopped talking with Hunter. In the non-government inquiry, Chitta Ranjan Das and AK Fazlul Haque from Bengal were also attached. From the time of Jahinwalabag inquiry Gandhi and Jinnah came to the limelight of politics of the Sub-Continent.
Another killing inquiry reports determined the fate of the people of Bangladesh. The reports on the inquiry of the incident of 21 February, 1952 made by Justice Alice, were rejected by student society and the politicians. He said, in conclusion, “opening fire on the students was indispensable; the Police was compelled to open fire. For this report, Alice is yet hated in Bangladesh.”
Jalianwalabag, 21 February and 21 August are all very big incidents. In the last one hundred years, innumerable small, medium and about many matters countless inquiry committees were constituted. That all the committees were biased, certainly it is not so. There are upright officials in our Administration. But the reports of most of the impartial Committees are kept file-bound. If there are anything embarrassing for the concerned officials, reports do not come to light.
One lakh 43 thousand tons of coal of Barapukuria- people say, has been stolen but the government investigation reports say that the entire quantity has been lost in the air or as a system loss. The quantity of coal mixed with air is still more- the inquiry of the civil society has detected it. If necessary actions would have been taken against the involved officials; the government had nothing to lose, rather the image of it would have been brightened.
Let us finish the story about Inquiry Committee with a report of the latest inquiry Committee. On 31 July last at the Kathalbari Ferry-ghat of Madaripur. The ferry vessel was delayed for 3 hours for a VIP, Juvenile boy Titas who was waiting in the Ambulance, died. The incident created anger and pangs in the minds of the people.
With the leadership of an Additional Secretary a three-number Inquiry Committee was formed by the government. For presenting the reports of that Committee to the bench consisting of High Court Justice FR Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader. It was submitted to the Attorney General Office. The Inquiry Committee did not find any fault with the District Commissioner. All liabilities fell on the shoulders of 3 unfortunate ferryghat employees. They are ghat manager, marginal assistant and a UD Assistant. According to the version of the Committee the three persons cannot avoid the liability of Titas’s death because they were responsible for the late starting of the ferry. The lines of ‘Old Servant’ by Rabindranath Tagore comes to the memory, ‘whatever is lost, my wife says, Kesta bugger is the thief.’ Our state exhibits efficiency in adjudging the most weak person guilty.
From a longing for establishing truth and proper justice lakhs of people in 1971 cleared the country of the enemy through sacrificing their lives. Out of lakhs very few were high ranking officials; 99.9 percent were general public. Today those mass people see that the state is anti weak people and friendly to the powerful ones. For them what can be more unfortunate than this matter? E
* Writer and Researcher.
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.
* The writer of this essay died on 23 February 2021. We are shocked at his sudden demise and pray for the salvation of his departed soul.