Depends. The landmark court judgment that granted deceased filmmaker Tareque Masud’s family Tk 4.61 crore has a very interesting context. The case itself took a very different trajectory from other incidences of road accidents.
His wife Catherine Masud filed a lawsuit against the bus company, the bus driver and Reliance insurance company in 2013 asking for Tk 7.76 crores at first, and then Tk 10 crores. The claim was made under section 128 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, which allows aggrieved parties of people injured or killed in road accidents to seek compensation.
This law is universally applicable for everyone. Anybody who has suffered losses in a road accident can submit a claim with the District Judge’s Court. In the case of Masud, this was filed in Manikganj. In the verdict of Tareque Masud’s case, the court observed that this case can serve as a template for all those who are victims of road accidents – that it will create awareness about the law that allows victims to claim compensation. The court observed that the vehicle drivers are just as culpable as the vehicle owners.
Things took a different turn from this point on. Tareque Masud’s case was picked up by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, something that does not happen to all lawsuits. Masud’s legal reps Dr Kamal Hossain and Associates petitioned the lawsuit to be moved to the High Court, citing section 110 of the constitution to allow it to step in. According to that provision in the constitution, this can happen if the High Court believes a case to be of ‘general public importance’. Tareque Masud’s eminence as a popular personality, and the general impunity that transport owners enjoy certainly makes this lawsuit one of public importance so as to set an example. The success of the case too is can be owed to the authority that the court holds.
However, there have been on average 2,500 deaths annually in the country since 2009. It is improbable that all road accidents will be promoted from the lower courts.
So Tk 4 crore then?
The number differs. While delivering the verdict of Tareque Masud’s case, the court observed that the compensation amount claimed would depend on the case, but the compensation for depriving the family members of the love and support of the person killed in the road accident would be the same for everyone. Tareque Masud’s family sought compensation for the destroyed microbus and for how the accident affected Catherine’s health, more specifically, her eyesight.
Will the money actually given?
In a similar case 27 years ago, the death of a newseditor of the Dainik Sangbad in a road accident succeeded in gaining a positive verdict. The family of the deceased Mozammel Hossain Montu is supposed to receive Tk 1.69 crores according to media reports but are yet to actually get anything.