Misbehaviour with Magistrate: Provide security to presiding officer

The High Court yesterday directed the inspector general of police to provide security to the official who witnessed policemen misbehaving with a judicial magistrate during the municipality polls in Kushtia.

Shahjahan Ali, who was the presiding officer at Bheramara Pilot Model High School in Kushtia, told the court yesterday that he and his family members were scared of police.

During the polls on January 16, Senior Judicial Magistrate Mohsin Hasan was talking to Shahjahan about allegations of voter fraud at the school, when Superintendent of Police SM Tanvir Arafath and several other police officers interrupted the conversation and asked Mohsin him to leave, according to complaints the latter had made.   

The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman issued the directive for the inspector general yesterday after hearing Shahjahan's statement.

Shahjahan, a jubo unnayan officer, attended the virtual proceeding and said he and his family members had been in fear since Wednesday afternoon, when he was called in to Daulatdia Police Station and forced to sign some papers, Supreme Court lawyer Ishrat Hasan told The Daily Star.

Shajahan prayed to the HC to save him and his family members, the lawyer added.

Deputy Attorney General Sarwar Hossain Bappi told The Daily Star that the HC bench ordered the IGP to take the steps needed to provide security to Shahjahan and his family members until January 25 when another HC bench is scheduled to hear a contempt of court rule against the superintendent of police, Tanvir Arafath.

According to media reports, Mohsin went to the polling centre at Bheramara Pilot Model High School after receiving complaints of voter fraud and was talking to presiding officer Shajahan when SP Arafath, ASP Mostafizur Rahman, and several other policemen went there and loudly called the presiding officer aside.

Mohsin then told the policemen that he was a judicial magistrate and requested them to let him speak to the presiding officer, the reports said.

SP Arafath then called the magistrate impolite and asked him to leave the premises, according to the reports.

Mohsin later filed a complaint with the Election Commission, Registrar General's Office of the Supreme Court, law and home ministries, and the office of Inspector General of Police, accusing the SP of serious misconduct, reports our correspondent in Kushtia.

The SP's conduct during the polls was a blatant violation of the Local Government Election Rules, 2010, the complaint said.

The HC bench of Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khizir Hayat on Wednesday issued a contempt of court rule against SP Arafath.

The bench also directed him to appear at the court in person on January 25 and place his explanation of the event.

The bench observed that the SP had not only committed serious contempt of court but also tarnished the image of the judiciary as a whole.

"The action of the superintendent of police… cannot be taken lightly," the HC said in a suo moto order. "The behaviour and the attitude… of the police to an officer of the judiciary who is performing the judicial functions as per the provisions of law under the guidance of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh amount to serious contempt of court.

"Such behaviour of the said superintendent of police, Kushtia, is a severe attack to the administration of justice and ultimately the entire judiciary."

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