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Litigants kept waiting for years

M Moneruzzaman

Many judgments delivered by the Appellate Division take years to be written up in full causing great difficulties to the litigants.
Although, the operative parts of judgments are announced in open court and bench assistants take dictation, litigants have to wait to get certified copies of the full judgment which requires them to be written up in full, typed, printed and signed by the judges.
An order takes effect only after a certified copy of an order is obtained.
Additional attorney general MK Rahman told New Age, ‘There are many examples both in Appellate Division and in the High Court that full judgments of cases have not yet been signed.’
‘Full judgments should be released as early as possible so that litigants can take benefit of the verdicts,’ he added.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Zainul Abedin, also a former Supreme Court Bar Association president, told New Age that although there were no rules about when full judgments should be released ‘they should be made available as early possible.’
Zainul, however, admitted that full judgments were typed, signed and often released hurriedly only after ‘lobbying’ by litigants concerned in urgent matters.     
In June, 2008 the High Court ruled that five people were found guilty of killing Shafiuddin Ahmed, Ambagan unit president of the BNP’s labour wing, at the Railway Colony five years earlier.
On April 4, 2010, a six-judge bench of chief justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim, Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman, Justice BK Das, Justice ABM Khairul Haque, Justice Md Muzammel Hossain and Justice SK Sinha upheld the High Court ruling confirming the death sentence of two death-row prisoners, Naimul Islam Emon and Shipon Hawlader, and sentenced three others to life in prison in the murder case.
Although nearly four years have passed, the full judgment of the apex court is yet to be signed and released although four judges of the bench have already retired from service, Only Justice Muzammel Hossain, who is the current chief justice, and Justice SK Sinha are current judges.
‘It is frustrating that the order will not be implemented until the full judgment is published,’ said Masuda Begum, the widow of Shafiuddin.
Another case involves the legality of fatwas or religious edict.
The High Court in January 2001 declared fatwas illegal, after bigots forced a woman to engage in a ‘hilla’ marriage in Naogaon. A ‘hilla’ marriage takes place when a man divorces his wife and then wants to remarry her, but in that case the wife first has to marry a third person before her ex-husband can marry her again.
In May 2011, a six-judge Appellate Division bench headed by the chief justice ABM Khairul Haque declared fatwa or Islamic religious edict legal in ‘religious matters’, but stated categorically that fatwa could not be used to punish anyone.
The full verdict is yet to be released which has created confusion in the application of the judgment, said rights activists.
‘We need the judgment immediately so that we can take help from it to stop illegal fatwas,’ said Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam.
Chief justice Khairul Haque retired in May 2011.
In June 3, 2012, the Appellate Division commuted the death sentence of three youths to rigorous imprisonment for 14 years in the much-talked-about case involving the killing of Sadia Sultana Trisha, a Class IV student, in Gaibandha in 2002.
In this case as well the full judgment has yet to be released, and the lawyer for the accused said that since each year of a sentence amounts to nine months if the prisoner is of good conduct, the three men, in jail since 2002, had now served out their sentences.
‘The men cannot get released without a copy of the full judgment,’ said Khurshid Alam Khan.

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