Rape victim questions HC death reference bench dealingsM Moneruzzaman
A complaint filed in January 2012 with the chief justice claiming anomalies in the way in which a High Court bench was dealing with a death reference case has still not been considered by the highest judicial officer even though in the meantime the bench released all the men who had earlier been convicted of the gang rape of woman.
Her complaint stated that although the High Court was hearing death reference cases following conviction in 2006, the court inappropriately took up for hearing the case involving the men who raped her which had resulted in conviction in 2008
In February 2008, six men were convicted of the gang rape of the woman when they entered her house at Daganbhuiyan in Feni in July 2002.
All cases in which an accused are sentenced to death by a trial court come to the High Court for its confirmation and they are known as ‘death reference’ cases.
The death reference case involving the woman’s rapist came up before the High Court in January 2012; she, however, filed an application with the chief justice concerning how the case came before the court ‘out of serial.’
In her application, which was signed and forwarded by the superintendent and then administrative officer on January 24, she alleged that the men who had been convicted including Feni’s Ismail Hossain Sabuj had used their muscle and money to get the ‘death reference’ heard in breach of the rule which required that the cases be heard in serial.
It claimed that Sabuj had got the High Court to deal with his death reference case even though at the time the court was only dealing with convictions that happened in 2006.
‘Although there is no scope to advance a case within the serial list of death reference cases, his death penalty was heard violating the serial,’ the woman stated in her complaint to the chief justice.
The chief justice, however, did not respond to her concerns and on February 20, 2012, the High Court bench of Justice Md Miftah Uddin Choudhury and Justice Md Shawkat Hossain rejected the death reference and acquitted all six convicts of the rape case.
The court heard the case for three days on February 9, 13 and 14, 2012.
Inquiries by New Age found that the woman’s complaint had still not been dealt with by the chief justice’s office.
The registrar AKM Shamsul Islam told New Age that he was not aware of any such application having been lodged and said that even if it had been ‘an application of this kind, it should have been filed through the attorney general’s office.’
Concerning the allegation mentioned in the application about the case jumping the serial list of cases, the registrar said that death references were heard on a first-come-first-served basis, and that in case of any urgent disposal, ‘the chief justice’s approval is needed.’
‘There is nothing to be done if the High Court bench has allowed an urgent hearing,’ he said.
ASM Abdul Mobin, who appeared for the accused Sabuj, told New Age that he could not remember the case. Another defence lawyer, Md Nizamul Islam, said that the accused were acquitted as ‘the case was baseless.’
Assistant attorney general Shafquat Hussain, who had represented the state in the rape case, said that he ‘could not remember the case’ and that he had nothing to do but to ‘appear in the court if a case is enlisted for hearing.’
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