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14 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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HC declares ‘Operation Clean Heart’ illegal

HC declares ‘Operation Clean Heart’ illegal

The High Court (HC) yesterday declared illegal the Indemnity Act, 2003, which legitimised all the controversial measures taken under Operation Clean Heart, conducted by the joint forces with the ostensible purpose of hunting down criminals during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.
The HC bench, comprising Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Ashraful Kamal, also ruled that families which were victimised could seek compensation from the government by filing a writ petition with the HC.
It ruled that people affected under Operation Clean Heart have the liberty to file civil and criminal cases for their remedy.
It observed that the law, which provided indemnity to personnel of the security forces, violated the provisions of the Constitution. The Indemnity Act, 2003, is directly contradictory to Sections 7(2), 26, 31 and 32 of the Constitution. Therefore, the Indemnity Act was illegal, as it was “born dead”, the court observed.
The HC also observed that it was the great responsibility of the police to ensure the security of people in accordance with the law. During the investigation of the cases, the police could arrest accused persons, but the law does not permit the police to torture the accused through third degree methods in their custody, the HC bench added.
The HC also observed that no one is above the law. Law enforcement personnel should carry out their duties in accordance with the law, it iterated.
No law can be formulated against the sprit of the Constitution and the law should be enacted to ensure the greater interest of the people, as everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, the court said.
Advocate Shahdeen Malik, counsel for the petitioner, expressed his satisfaction over the verdict. The door has been opened for filing cases against the persons responsible for killing people during Operation Clean Heart, he added.
ZI Khan Panna, a Supreme Court lawyer and former chairman of the legal aid and human rights committee of the Bangladesh Bar Council, had filed the writ petition with the HC in 2012 as a public interest litigation, seeking its directive on the matter.
In response to the writ petition, the HC had  issued a rule on July 29, 2012, asking the government to explain within six weeks why the Joint Drive Indemnity Act, 2003, should not be declared unconstitutional.  The court also asked the authorities concerned to explain why they should not be directed to create a fund of Tk. 100 crore to compensate victims of the operation.

According to reports published in various dailies, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government passed the Indemnity Act, 2003, to give immunity from prosecution to all those who carried out the countrywide operation, which was conducted from October 16, 2002 to January 9, 2003.
The law provided legal indemnity to all those involved in the operation for any damage caused.
Around 24,023 Army and 339 Navy personnel, along with members of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), police and Ansar had joined Operation Clean Heart.
As many as 44 people died in custody and hundreds sustained injuries following torture during the operation, triggering criticism over human rights violations.
The then government, however, put the death toll at only 12, saying all the victims died of heart attacks in hospital after being handed over to the police.
The joint forces arrested 11,245 people, including some 2,482 listed criminals, and recovered 2,028 firearms and 29,754 rounds of ammunition.

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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