Vol. 5 Num 538 Thu. December 01, 2005  
Front Page

HC Rule on Attacks on Courts, Judges
Why probes shouldn't be declared failure
Govt asked to file progress report every two weeks

The High Court yesterday issued a rule on the government why its continuous failure to discharge constitutional obligations to hold impartial, adequate and effective investigations into the bomb blasts on court premises since August 17 should not be declared a failure in protecting fundamental rights.

A division bench, upon a writ petition filed by a member of Bangladesh Bar Council, ordered the government to submit progress reports to the High Court every two weeks on the investigations into the attacks on court premises.

The rule also asked the government to show cause why government omission in taking adequate and effective measures to ensure security of the members of the judiciary, court officers, lawyers, police personnel and court-users should not be declared to be a failure to protect the fundamental rights of the petitioner.

Advocate ZI Khan Panna, chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Bangladesh Bar Council that represents as many as 40,000 legal practitioners of the country, filed the petition on behalf of the committee.

The respondents are secretaries of the law and home ministries and the inspector general of police.

Dr Kamal Hossain, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, Dr M Zahir, Barrister Sara Hossain and Barrister Tanjib Ul Alam moved for the petitioner while Additional Attorney General Fida M Kamal and Deputy Attorney General Adilur Rahman Khan for the government.

"...the respondents have failed to protect the fundamental right to life of the persons within the court premises by their failure to conduct adequate, impartial and ineffective investigations into the said bomb blasts," the petition said.

It appealed to the court for directing the government to carry out their constitutional duty to protect the security and the right to life of judges, lawyers, police personnel and court-users on the court premises by taking immediate and effective actions on the basis of statements of surviving assailants and ruling party lawmakers.

The petitioner blamed the government for its 'failure to discharge their obligations' to ensure the safety and security in the courts despite being fully aware of the declared threats to the security of people, the lawyers and certain citizens in particular.

"... .the impugned omission has resulted in a failure to ensure the right to access to justice of ordinary citizens by seriously undermining people's confidence in the security of the sites of justice delivery, namely the courts, and instilling fear and panic among the population," reads the petition.

The petition also said BNP lawmaker Abu Hena was expelled from the party on November 24 for giving a press statement that the rise of Islamist militancy in the country was taking place under the patronage of some ministers and lawmakers of the ruling four-party alliance.

He had specifically named Posts and Telecommunications Minister Aminul Haque for harbouring militants in Rajshahi, it added.

After Hena's expulsion, BNP's standing committee member and former minister Oli Ahmed also gave statements holding elements within the alliance responsible for the rise of militancy. Besides, BNP Whip Ashraf Hossain gave press statements 'directly naming Jamaat-e-Islami as being implicated in the rise of militancy', the petition said.

The petition also mentioned that BNP International Affairs Secretary Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari resigned from party on September 26 protesting government failure to act against its coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami.

It added that the Rapid Action Battalion arrested Mahtab Ali Khamaru, alleged close aide of JMB leader Bangla Bhai, at Bagmara in Rajshahi on November 26 and released him after several hours. "It was reported that elements within the government had ordered the release of Khamaru after he was detained."

The petition said effective measures to address the declared threats by militant forces to the life and security of the judiciary, legal professionals and other court-users and personnel cannot be faced effectively only by enhancing security measures.

"[It] requires comprehensive efforts to undertake effective and adequate investigations regarding those responsible, and also regarding the alleged patronage extended to the perpetrators of such violence by certain persons holding high office," it added.

Bar Council Vice chairman Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud yesterday urged the Supreme Court judges to refrain from discharging all judicial functions voluntarily until adequate and effective steps are taken to ensure the security of judges, lawyers, litigants, police personnel and court-officers.

"The judges of the lower courts have already become victims of suicide bomb attacks. They expressed concern at the incidents of bomb attacks on the judges and court premises. The Supreme Court judges can also be victims of such attacks any time," he said speaking at a press conference at the Bar Council auditorium.

Supporting today's hartal called by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the former SCBA president said the government will not be able to face this current situation as the patrons of the bombers are hiding inside the government.

He demanded that the government should provide compensation for the victims of the bomb attacks and make public the probe reports on all the attacks.

Bar Council executive members advocates Yusuf Hossain Humayun, ZI Khan Panna and Sahara Khatun were also present at the press conference.