On July 25, the plenary of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh allowed the appeal of Dr. Mohiuddin Farooque v. Bangladesh and Others. The appeal, brought on behalf of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), arose from a judgment of the High Court Division summarily dismissing a Writ Petition filed by BELA for lack of standing. As grounds for rejecting the case, the lower court had concluded that BELA was not a "person aggrieved" within the meaning and scope of Art. 102 of the Constitution of Bangladesh and had no right to act on behalf of others aggrieved. The appeal seeks a determination of whether a person or group of persons could be "aggrieved" in ways beyond the strict meaning of the term.
On July 1, a Division Bench of the High Court Division delivered judgment in a Writ Petition concerning radioactively contaminated dried skimmed milk powder. The petitioner alleged gross failure on the parts of various respondents to take effective measures in dealing with a consignment of 125 metric tons of imported skimmed milk powder which was found to contain excessive concentrations of radioactivity. The judgment addressed for the first time the right of a petitioner to file a case as merely a potential victim. The Court held that the right to life under Arts. 31 and 32 of the Constitution included the rights to protection of health and normal longevity of human beings. It concluded that risks to health and longevity created by possible exposure to contaminated foods therefore affected the fundamental right to life of a person. The Court directed the Collector of Customs to change its food testing procedures by taking more samples and using more rigorous testing methods.
In 1996, the government of Bangladesh finalized and approved a National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP) that had been developed through a planning process which--as a first for the country--involved broad public participation. The plan is expected to be activated in three different ways. A first step will be to strengthen the Department of Environment. Grassroots projects, promotion of awareness, advocacy, and education were identified as components of a second initiative. A third initiative encompasses policy and institutional development and intersectoral linkages. The Ministry of Environment and Forest is to steer all three initiatives with participation