Bangladesh

Women Repression Cases: HC’s monitoring orders ignored

Over three years ago, the High Court directed the administration of the Supreme Court to form a cell to monitor whether the trials of cases filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, 2000 are completed in 180 days.

The monitoring cell, headed by the registrar general of the SC, would report to the SC and the government for taking appropriate action against judges, public prosecutors and investigation officers who fail to assign causes for not disposing of the cases on time, according to the HC directive.

Three years down the line, the SC administration failed to constitute the cell.

The SC office, however, could not say the exact reasons behind noncompliance with the HC directive. As a result, updated information on the disposal of cases filed under the act remain unknown.

Incumbent SC Registrar General Md Ali Akbar said he was not informed about the HC directive for formation of the monitoring cell.

"I will inquire about the High Court verdict and then will take necessary steps," he told The Daily Star on October 17.

Contacted, SC Spokesman Mohammad Saifur Rahman said he will have to inquire of the registrar general on the issue of monitoring cell formation.

He could not give any details about the issue.

The rise in reported incidents of sexual violence against women and children points to the failure of the existing law and justice system in prosecuting offenders and ensuring justice for the victims. And the monitoring cell could have played a role here, said legal experts.

THE DIRECTIVE

The HC directive came in the full text of a verdict delivered by the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice JBM Hassan. The full text was released on May 12, 2017.

On December 5, 2016, the bench delivered a short verdict after hearing a suo motu (voluntary) rule.

The rule was issued earlier during the hearing of a bail petition filed by Millad Hossain, an accused in a murder case filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.

According to section 20 of the act, the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal must finish the trials of cases filed under this law within 180 days of charge framing.

Section 31(ka) of the law states if the trial of a case is not finished on time, the tribunal judge, public prosecutor and police officer concerned have to submit separate reports to the SC and the government, mentioning causes for the delay, and then the authorities concerned should take necessary steps.

The HC judges said in the full verdict, "…the Registrar General of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh is directed to constitute a Monitoring Cell headed by him or the Registrar of the High Court Division along with the Secretary or his representative not below the rank of Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Law and Justice Division, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.

"The Monitoring Cell shall monitor this aspect and shall submit report from time to time to the concerned authorities of the responsible persons for taking appropriate action in accordance with section 31Ka (3) of the Act, 2000 with a copy thereof to the Monitoring Committee for the Subordinate Judiciary of the Supreme Court."

WHAT HAPPENED TO MILLAD HOSSAIN'S CASE?

The HC refused to grant bail to Millad Hossain as there was a specific allegation against him and asked the trial court to finish his trial in one year in line with the full text of the verdict.

The law secretary and SC registrar general on December 5, 2016 submitted two reports to the HC, saying none of the lower court judges, public prosecutors and police officials concerned complied with the provision of the act on disposing of cases.

The law secretary and SC registrar general submitted the reports after the HC asked them to explain in 30 days whether there was any exercise of the section and whether the SC and law ministry had taken any steps in this regard.

Millad Hossain's lawyer Cumar Debul Dey told The Daily Star that the case against his client was filed with Rangunia Police Station in Chittagong on February 19, 2015 on charge of killing his wife.

The case was sent to the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-2 of Chittagong for trial. The tribunal framed charges in the case on March 21, 2015, but could not finish the trial on time.

Advocate Cumar said he will bring before the HC the issue of non-implementation of its order on forming the monitoring cell.

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