Tort

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Tort a civil wrong that arises from neglect to perform or from omission to perform a legal duty. It does not arise out of a breach of contract. Negligence, nuisance, trespass, false imprisonment are instances of tortious acts. The earliest remedy for tortious acts is found in the judicial pronouncements of judges of England based on common law in the 15th century. With growing awareness of individual's right, legislatures have enacted laws providing for remedial measures for tortious acts. To discourage a wrongdoer from committing an offence, and to compensate personal injury and damage caused to a property of a person, are the aim of tort law. This remedy does not lie only against an individual. It equally lies against a juridical person, for instance, a municipal corporation or any other statutory authority. A person sustaining physical injury may file a law suit for compensation. Civil court also can pass a decree for payment of money for the damage or injury caused to a property or for interference with enjoyment of a property. Such suit may lie for negligence, nuisance, willful fraudulent misrepresentation, trespass, false imprisonment, deceit, defamation etc.

Negligence to removal of garbages and refuses from the city of Dhaka, the legal duty of the Municipal Corporation of Dhaka, is tortious act. Similarly, negligent treatment of a patient by a doctor detriment to the health of the patient, and negligent handling of a case by a lawyer causing loss of property of his client are also tortious acts. Throwing of garbages and refuses in a public place thickly populated by the city dwellers or similar other places or throwing toxic industrial effluents from tanneries into the river are instances of nuisance. Willful fraudulent misrepresentation by either words or conduct with intent to induce a person to act and to cause harms is deceit, and so tort. Illegal entry upon the land of another is trespass and is a tortious act. When a person plants a fruit-bearing tree upon his own land, but the branches overhang the airspace of another or discharges water on the land of others or even after determination of his tenancy remains in possession against the will of the landlord he commits offence of trespass. Where a person restrains another from his movement unlawfully either by force or threat he commits false imprisonment.

In Bangladesh under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 for the death of a person caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, the party injured is entitled to maintain an action for tortious act, and compensation for such death can be recovered for the benefit of the wife, husband, parents and child of the deceased. Under the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 suit lies for payment of compensation to the worker for the injury caused to him for negligence of the employer. A suit for damage lies under the Irrigation Act, 1876 for damage done in respect of any right to a water-course or the use of any water to which any person is entitled under the law of limitation. Similarly, for obstruction to a way or a water course remedy lies in a suit for compensation under the Limitation Act. Suit for compensation also lies for any malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance independent of contract. A suit for compensation lies where any right to any land not acquired under Agricultural and Sanitary Improvement Act, 1920 and right to fishery, drainage, use of water and other right of property is injuriously affected by any act or work done under the Act. A suit for compensation for special damage and injunction against a wrongdoer lies under Specific Relief Act, 1877.

In Bangladesh, important laws under which legal action for tortious acts lies are: (i) The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855; (ii) The Irrigation Act, 1876; (iii) Specific Relief Act, 1877; (iv) The Easements Act, 1882; (v) Agriculture and Sanitary Improvement Act, 1920; (vi) Women's Compensation Act, 1923; (vii) The Dhaka Municipal Corporation Ordinance, 1983. [AM Mahmudur Rahman]