May 192019

The High Court (HC) of Bangladesh has scrapped three government circulars imposing a minimum age of 12 and a half years to be eligible for the status of a freedom fighter.

An HC bench comrising Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil issued the rule after hearing 15 writs challenging the age limit.

At the same time, the imposition of the age restriction on the definition of ‘Bir Muktijoddha’ under section 11 of Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust Act was also declared unconstitutional by the court.

The court also ordered the authorities to resume payment of the freedom fighters’ honorarium, including the arrears, to the petitioners. They must execute the order within 60 days of receiving a copy of the order.

The government in 2014 issued a circular fixing the minimum age of a freedom fighter 13 years as of March 26, 1971.

Later on, in January last year, the government amended the gazette notification re-fixing the minimum age of the freedom fighter as 12 years and six months as of November 30, 1971.

The HC on Sunday scrapped the gazette notification saying that the government has no authority to issue any circular or gazette notification fixing the age of freedom fighters.

The court also directed the government to give all due honourium within 60 days to the freedom fighters who were deprived due to the circular.

The HC delivered the verdict following 15 separate writ petitions filed by around 150 freedom fighters challenging the legality of the gazette notification.

One of the writ petitioners Mahmud Hasan, director of department of geological survey, said in the petition that he is a freedom fighter and he had joined the geological survey as a freedom fighter on June 26 of 1988.

He said the gazette notifications have affected him as he was 12 years, four months and 12 days of age on November 30, 1971 adding that the gazette notifications contradict the spirit of the Liberation War.

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