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Bangladesh: Supreme Court Ruling on General Strikes

(Dec. 2, 2007) The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has reversed a 1999 High Court Bench ruling that violence or coercion for or against a general strike, known in Bangladesh as a "hartal," is illegal.

In Bangladesh, the hartal is recognized as an instrument to articulate political demands. On February 15, 1999, a High Court Bench in Bangladesh issued a show cause notice against certain members of the ruling and opposition parties asking why hartals should not be declared illegal. On May 13, 1999, the High Court Bench affirmed that violence or coercion for or against a hartal constituted criminal activity and directed the governmental authorities to take appropriate action. The Secretary General of the Bangladesh National Party filed an appeal against the High Court ruling, and the Supreme Court of Bangladesh stayed execution of the ruling.

Eight years later, in November 2007, the Supreme Court took up the appeal. On December 2, 2007, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court Bench ruling. (SC Sets Aside HC Ruling on Hartal, The New Nation, December 3, 2007, available at