POST TIME: 29 December, 2019 12:01:20 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 29 December, 2019 02:26:30 PM
Judiciary plays huge role ensuring justice in 2019
Looking back 2019
Muhammad Yeasin, Dhaka

Judiciary plays huge role ensuring justice in 2019

The judiciary drew much attention in 2019 for its role in disposing of many significant cases, various public interest and political interest litigation including the Nusrat Jahan Rafi murder case. On October 24, the special tribunal in Feni awarded death sentences to all 16 accused over the sensational murder of 19-year-old madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, who was set on fire after she accused the principal of her madrasa of sexual harassment.

The convicts are madrasa principal SM Siraj-ud-Daula, ex-Awami League upazila unit president Ruhul Amin, Shahadat Hossain Shamim, Nur Uddin, Imran Hossain Mamun, Hafez Abdul Quader, Iftekhar Uddin Rana, councillor Maksud Alam (alias Moksud), Kamrun Nahar Moni, Saifur Rahman Mohammad Zobair, Javed, Umme Sultana Poppy, Mohiuddin Shakil, Mohammad Shamim, Abdur Rahim Sharif, and Absar Uddin. Tribunal judge Mamunur Rashid issued the ruling six months after Nusrat’s murder.

On April 6, Nusrat, an Alim examinee of the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa, was set on fire by people loyal to the madrasa principal, Siraj-ud-Daula, after she refused to withdraw a sexual harassment case filed against him. Nusrat suffered over 80 per cent burns and died four days later on April 10 at the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

The incident sparked nationwide outrage and public demand for swift justice against the perpetrators. A case was filed at the Sonagazi Police Station on April 8. The police pressed charges in court against the 16 accused on May 29. The judiciary was at the centre of political discourse for some landmark judgments including the rejection of bail petition of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, who was convicted for 17 years in jail in two corruption cases.

On December 12, the Supreme Court rejected incarcerated BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. However, the apex court ordered the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital authorities to ensure her advanced treatment in line with the medical board’s recommendations, after getting her consent.

The full Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the orders after hearing the arguments of both sides. The High Court on July 31 had rejected Khaleda’s bail petition in the graft case, prompting her counsels to move the apex court on November 14. Khaleda, a three-time former prime minister, has been in prison since February last year, serving a total of 17 years in the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust corruption cases.

On November 27, in a landmark verdict, a special Dhaka tribunal awarded the death penalty to seven militants for their involvement in the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack that had left 22 people, including 17 foreigners, dead.

The Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal judge Md Majibur Rahman ordered the convicts to be hanged till death. The seven death-row convicts—Jahangir Hossain, Aslam Hossain Rash, Hadisur Rahman, Rakibul Hasan Regan, Md Abdus Sabur Khan, Shariful Islam Khaled, and Mamunur Rashid Ripon—were also fined Tk 50,000 each.

In its order, the court said it tried to ensure justice in its verdict. The accused had tried to flaunt their strength in Bangladesh through the Holey Artisan attack. Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury was the mastermind, it added.

Tamim and two other suspected militants were killed during a gunfight at a militant hideout in Narayanganj on August 27, 2016. Police had named the Canadian-Bangladeshi, who led the ‘Neo JMB’, as the one who planned the July 1 attack. The 30-year-old had been in Bangladesh since 2013 after he was reported missing from Canada. Abdur Rahman alias Neo JMB Chief Sarwar Jahan was killed during a raid by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Ashulia on October 8, 2016.

On July 1, 2016, a group of armed militants had stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery at the diplomatic zone in Dhaka’s Gulshan area.

The grisly terror attack had left 22 people dead. Two police officers were also killed during the 12-hour standoff that followed.

On July 4 that year, sub-inspector Ripon Kumar Das filed a case at the Gulshan police station under the Anti-Terrorism Act, accusing six named and some unknown people in connection with the incident.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court had, on August 22, restrained three judges of the High Court Division from performing their duties.

The SC took the decision following a primary investigation against the judges for alleged corruption and misconduct.

Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain had consulted the President about the investigation and then asked the judges to refrain from conducting judicial activities, SC sources said. The three judges are Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury, Justice Quazi Reza-ul-Hoque and Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque.

Since then, the names of the three judges have not been mentioned in the apex court’s cause list and they also did not attend their respective benches.

On December 3, the Supreme Court administration transferred 31 of its staff from the filing and affidavit sections of the Supreme Court in a bid to reduce irregularities and corruption in the judiciary. The Supreme Court administration took the decision after the chief justice expressed his dissatisfaction over various irregularities.

Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain had expressed his disappointment at a hearing over the failure to prevent irregularities even after the installation of CCTV cameras in the affidavit section of the Supreme Court.

The High Court and Appellate Divisions of SC issued directives in many public interest litigation that sought to protect the environment, and legal, fundamental and human rights of people.

On December 3, the High Court (HC) directed the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) to stop all but 68 underground drains and sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga River. The HC also observed that the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) was the authority concerned to control and stop the 68 underground drains and sewerage lines that were polluting the river.

“These drains and sewerage lines have been polluting the Buriganga River. The pollution must be stopped. Dhaka city corporations are responsible for ontrolling the surface pipelines in the capital,” the HC observed.

The HC bench of Justices Gobinda Chandra Tagore and Mohammad Ullah came up with the order and observations after receiving a report by the BIWTA, which stated that there were 68 underground drains and sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga River that were being maintained by the Dhaka WASA.

In May, the HC sought information about the areas of Dhaka that were being supplied contaminated and unsafe water by the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA).

The bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice MD Khairul Alam passed the order following a writ petition filed by Advocate Tanvir Ahmed, seeking its directive against the unsafe water.

Earlier, the HC bench had issued a rule asking the government to explain why its failure and inaction to supply safe water should not be declared illegal.

On October 23, the HC directed the authorities concerned to stop selling oil and gas to unfit vehicles until fitness certificates were renewed. It asked the authorities to take steps so that vehicles without valid fitness documents could not get fuel from any filling station in the country. It also gave the owners of such vehicles two more months to collect their renewed fitness certificates.

Law enforcers were directed to ensure that filling stations across the country did not supply fuel to vehicles without valid fitness documents.

An HC bench, comprising Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam, gave the order after the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) submitted a report to the court, stating that fitness certificates of 89,269 out of 458,369 unfit vehicles across the country had been renewed in two months.

On July 23 this year, the HC bench had directed the owners of 479,320 vehicles to renew their fitness certificates in two months—from August 1 to September 30. But only 89,269 vehicles received fitness certificates during the period. More than 3.9 lakh vehicles are still running without valid fitness papers, according to a BRTA report.

In a landmark decision, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) had on November 24 ordered the country’s largest mobile phone operator Grameenphone (GP) to pay Tk. 2,000 crore to the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) within three months. BTRC claimed that GP currently has dues of around Tk. 12,580 crore.

A seven-member full bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, issued the order after disposing of a petition filed by the BTRC against an High Court (HC) injunction on realising dues of around Tk. 12,580 crore from GP.

Ensuring justice for all, the HC in a verdict directed the inspector general of police to take necessary measures to ensure a quick probe into allegations against law enforcers and action against those found guilty.

 “While conducting daily judicial proceedings, we often notice that various allegations are brought against the law enforcers, including local police officers in different areas, and the victims lodge written complaints with the office of inspector general of police. But the allegations are not disposed of quickly,” the HC bench comprising Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman made the observation in its full judgment on a writ petition challenging the alleged manipulation of the first information report in labour leader Nurul Islam murder case in Rajshahi.

“The court also firmly believes that the IGP would make the functions of IGP Complaints Monitoring Cell more effective and speedy.”  

In November 2017, Police Headquarters opened a complaint cell under an IGP so that anybody could lodge complaints against misdeeds and mismanagement of the law enforcers.

The HC observed that the allegation against the then officer-in-charge, Shakil Uddin Ahamed, of Rajshahi’s Puthia Police Station of manipulating the FIR in the Nurul Islam murder case was undoubtedly grave and was a punitive offence under Sections 166 and 167 of the Penal Code.

Besides, the HC bench, on several occasions, had directed the IGP to take necessary steps against law enforcers, if they were found guilty while dealing with cases. Besides, the judiciary drew much attention for its role in disposing of many important issues, including college students Suraia Akter Risha, Abdul Karim Rajib and Dia Khanam Mim’s murder cases.

On October 10, a special tribunal in Dhaka sentenced the sole accused, tailor Obaidul Khan, to death and fined him Taka 50,000 in a case lodged over the murder of Wills Little Flower School student Suraia Akter Risha.

Risha, a student of capital’s Wills Little Flower School and College, was knifed by accused Obaidul in front of the school on August 24, 2016. The eighth-grader succumbed to her injuries in hospital four days later.

Obaidul Khan, a tailor by profession, used to disturb Risha over phone and stalk the girl. Risha’s mother warned him for his offense.

On December 1, a Dhaka court observed that students, youths and even the elderly people were being crushed under the wheels of bus due to apathy and negligence of the drivers and helpers, which had to be stopped for the safety of all.

Judge KM Emrul Kayesh of the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court came up with the observation while delivering a landmark verdict sentencing two bus drivers and a helper to life imprisonment for killing two college students — Abdul Karim Rajib and Dia Khanam Mim — in their mad race in July 2018.

It also observed that reckless driving and mad competition of the drivers to earn money should be stopped from now as such competition among the drivers was an ominous sign for the people.

The court sentenced three persons—two drivers and a helper of two buses of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan — to life imprisonment for the deaths of two Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College students, in a road accident in July 2018.

The convicts are Masum Billah and Zobair Hossain Sumon and helper Kazi Asad, who is absconding. The court, however, acquitted Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan bus owner Jahangir Alam and assistant Enayet Hossain as the charges against them could not be proved.