by Anika Mardiah Chowdhury    

The people of Bangladesh are surviving with unsafe and adulterated foods and by consuming this they suffer premature deaths which increase healthcare costs, diseases, environmental pollution, etc. 

At present food safety is a major concerning issue in Bangladesh for the sake of public health. As foodborne illness is the main outcome of food adulteration for this every year huge numbers of people are suffering from foodborne illnesses. Unsafe as well as adulterated food is the main foundation of many serious and chronic diseases like diarrhea diseases and various forms of cancer. On the other hand, the foodborne disease kills about two million people annually which include many children stated by the World Health also “Food contaminants contain such as harmful parasites, bacteria, viruses, prisons, chemical or radioactive substances which cause more than 200 diseases such as ranging from infectious diseases to cancers.

As we know in Bangladesh for controlling food adulteration the mobile court is implemented which is conducted under the Mobile Court Act, 2009. This paper will mainly discuss the conduct of mobile court and procedure along with any limitation of the mobile court if any.

The procedure conducted by a mobile court is regulated by the Mobile Court Act, 2009. Under section 4 and section 5 of this Act empowered the judicial magistrates and Metropolitan magistrates to take cognizance and try an offense summarily. The mobile court tries simple offenses which are particularly mentioned in the Schedule to that Act. 

The mobile court disposes of summary case and Section 262 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter XX shall have to follow in case of summarily trial.

Mobile Court Act states that any offenses committed under the Penal Code, 1860 on specific sections, Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983, Fish and Fish Products (Inspection and Quality Control) Ordinance, 1983 and many others shall be tried by the judicial magistrate or executive magistrate or other designated officers under the following Act. Section 6 of the Mobile Court Act, 2009 states that if any offense observed or committed in front of the following magistrates then they can dispose of the case summarily by the confession of the offender but if the offender does not confess his offense then as per section 7 the magistrate shall send the case to any appropriate trial court. On the other hand, if any offenses which are triable by the Session Judge or any other higher court then the executive or district magistrate shall send that to the Session Judge Court or any other higher court.

Also, section 8 of the Mobile Court, 2009 states the impose of punishment which is limited to two years or less and fine shall be imposed as per the offense of that special law and as per section 9 the fine imposed shall be payable instant or within three months as per the Mobile Court Act. Under section 13 of the following Act the aggrieved party can fill an appeal to the district magistrate or to the Session Judge Court.

From the above discussion, it was seen that in our country the mobile courts serve a crucial purpose and ignore many procedures which have to follow in case of a trial like notice or hear from the accused regarding his defense but the mobile court ignores such for providing a quick and efficient trial, though it reduces the backlog the way through it conducts its function must be reformed. For example, by allowing a single individual to play the roles of the plaintiff as well witness, investigator, and much importantly a judge under the following Act gives too much power in the hands of the person who is in charge of the case. Therefore, it can be said that the Mobile Court Act of 2009 stands as flawed and unfair along it has some limitations. And the issues it’s unfair and the limitation is discussing below.

Procedural Limitation:

The Mobile Court Act, 2009 pronounce judgment only base on confession by the accused This may happen if the offenders who are aware of the limitations of the mobile court do not confess to their offenses. Nevertheless, it is to be mention that the Act does provide limitations in relation to imposing punishment as states that the imprisonment must not exceed two years but what if the offense is grievous than.

Also, many have claimed that mobile court have not proper equipment to determine the adulteration as some bakery owners of Dinajpur filed a writ petition challenging some sections of the Mobile Court Act,2009 and seeking an HC order to enact a policy of keeping food experts and necessary food testing equipment with the mobile court.

Limitations under the constitutional Law:

The Mobile Court Act, 2009 had given rise to a wide difference of opinions regarding the constitutional law and regarding its effect or power on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive which has been established by the Majdar Hossain case. While the positive view recognized that the mobile court system conducts a speedy resolution of some offenses on the counterpoint it is argued by many experts that the system allows officers to act arbitrarily in the absence of instant advice from lawyers in case of accused persons often appear to be victims of the situation. Moreover, article 35 (3) of the constitution of Bangladesh provides the right to obtain a fair and open trial for all by a competent forum and protection from providing evidence against him but the sole means to punish the accused under mobile court law if the accused confessed by himself which makes it an unconstitutional.

Violation of Natural Justice System:

 An established principle of natural justice is that every person shall have the equal right to defend himself before punishment or must have to be heard before punishment and can appoint a lawyer to this end. However, in the trial of a case under the Mobile court act, 2009 the law has no provision of self-defense or provides time for appointing a lawyer which is a great violation of the general principles of law.

In conclusion, it can be said that the mobile court system is a cost-effective means of a speedy solution of cases along have some limitations and would be unnecessarily time-consuming if dealt with as per the normal court procedure. Through multiple initiatives have been taken place to amend the Mobile Court Act but still, there is no real change made out or taken place yet. At this point, it is imperative that the government should take note and implement some changes or implement a separate food court for reducing the level of food adulteration.

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