BANGLADESH | High Court demands explanations on toxic ships scrapping

The High Court yesterday issued a rule upon two shipping department high officials to explain within two weeks why they should not be punished for issuing no objection certificates (NOC) for import of two toxic ships for scrapping, despite the court’s stay order on such issuance.

An HC bench of Justice Md Imman Ali and Justice Farid Ahmed issued the rule upon Shipping Department Director General (DG) Rear Admiral Bazlur Rahman and its Chief Chemist Mosharraf Ashraf following a contempt of court petition filed against them by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).

The HC on March 5, 2009, through a ruling, prohibited import of any vessel tainted with “hazardous waste or contaminating hazardous materials, which has not been decontaminated at source”.

This year, ship breakers appealed against the order, but the Supreme Court upheld the HC order and asked the ship breakers to implement the directives.

Bela in its contempt of court petition stated that the alleged contemnors issued the NOCs without receiving any decontamination certificates from proper authorities.

The bench also scheduled November 28 for a hearing on yesterday’s ruling.

Bela filed the petition on September 30 against six government high officials including Bazlur and Mosharraf for issuing the NOCs for importing MV BADRI and MT BO, and for allowing those to enter the country’s territory.

The HC on the same day issued a rule seeking explanation from the accused within 10 days as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be drawn against them.

On October 13, five of the accused, Bazlur, Mosharraf, DG of the Department of Environment (DOE) Monwar Islam, DOE Director (Chittagong Port) Md Zafar Alam, and Collector of Customs (Import) Golam Kibria appeared before the court.

The court cleared Monwar, Zafar, and Kibria of the charge after they apologised to the court for violating its order. Bazlur and Mosharraf opted to contest the ruling.

Another accused, Chairman of Chittagong Port Reaz Ahmed, appeared before the court on October 28 and offered unconditional apology as well. He was also cleared of the charge.

After the issuance of the NOCs, the HC in a different order stayed the operation of the certificates for one month, and directed the importers of the two ships to maintain status quo regarding dismantling of the ships.

Advocate Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for Bela, while Advocate Kamruzzaman Mollah represented the defendants.

Source: The Daily Star, 2010.11.08

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