Presidential clemency to convicted killer Biplob criticisedAdmin
Mohiuddin Alamgir and Muktasree Chakma Sathi
Lawmakers, politicians, lawyers, rights activists and the intelligentsia reacted sharply to the presidential clemency to convicted killer AHM Biplob for the second time in seven months.
Talking with New Age, they condemned the decision and alleged that the
government, particularly the president, is ‘not paying any heed to public sentiment and the establishment of rule of law.’ The president’s office lost its dignity by giving such clemency, they added.
The president, Zillur Rahman, has granted mercy to Biplob, son of Abu Taher, an Awami League leader and mayor of the Lakshmipur municipality, in two cases of murders of Mohsin and Kamal. This time, Biplob’s sentence of imprisonment for life in each of the two cases has been reduced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Earlier in July 2010, Biplob was pardoned by the president in the Nurul Islam murder case in which he was sentenced to death.
The National Human Rights Commission chairman, Mizanur Rahman, reacted sharply to the presidential clemency, saying that the nation must come out of this culture.
‘A convict in a criminal case should in no way be forgiven,’ he said at a programme of district administration in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday.
Ruling Awami League-led alliance lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon, also president of the Workers Party of Bangladesh, told New Age, ‘Undoubtedly, the president has the constitutional rights to exercise clemency power. But at the same time, the president needs to consider that if convicts in sensational political and social cases are pardoned, the rule of law would be hampered.’
the Communist Party of Bangladesh general secretary, Mujahidul Islam, said that the president had the right to pardon to anyone but ‘acts that are lawful are not always just.’
The constitution empowers the president to grant pardon, reprieve and respite and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authorities.
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik told New Age that such exercise of power by the president was clearly an ‘arbitrary abuse of power.’
Even after the countrywide criticism after the first clemency given to him, the government seems to be ‘paying no heed to the public sentiment,’ Shahdeen observed.
He said that this power should be used in either to prevent the ‘miscarriage of justice’ or if any ‘purely humanitarian grounds’ arise.
Shahdeen said that the miscarriage of justice relates to a person who is sentenced to be in prison for life suspecting that he is the murderer and subsequently is found to be innocent. Considering the ‘miscarriage of justice,’ the president can use the ‘power to pardon.’
The president could also use his clemency power on ‘purely humanitarian grounds’ if a person imprisoned for life is detected to be suffering from cancer or any fatal diseases which will end by his death, Shahdeen said.
Pointing out that none of these criteria are present in Biplob’s cases, Shahdeen also said, ‘Such practice of clemency will haunt the party on the day of elections.’
Rights organisation Odhikar’s secretary Adilur Rahman Khan said that such ‘unjust deed’ would definitely nurture the ‘culture of impunity’ that has prevailed since the independence war.
‘People will definitely lose trust in the judicial system because of such biased clemency. People’s trust in the justice system will be shattered,’ Adilur added.
Expressing frustration at such clemency to a convicted killer, columnist and rights activist Rahnuma Ahmed told New Age, ‘I am utterly shocked at the president’s lack of respect for life. Lessening a prison term of a convicted murderer, the president has consigned Ivy Rahmnan’s death and his sense of loss at her death, to the trash can.’
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s senior lawmaker Moudud Ahmed said that people would lose confidence in the president’s office and receive a wrong
message because of the clemency. ‘Providing clemency to identified convicted killers clearly pointed out that the law and order and the rule of law have deteriorated.’
Moudud, also a former law minister, termed the clemency ‘politically motivated’ and alleged that the decision had come from the executive of the state, the ruling party. ‘The president was forced to do this,’ he said.
BNP lawmaker MK Anwar, also a member of the party’s standing committee, alleged that the Awami League was on its way to make this country a safe haven for criminals.
On September 18, 2000, Nurul Islam, the then organising secretary of the Lakshmipur BNP, was abducted and hacked to death by Biplob and his associates.
BNP activist Kamal was killed in his house in front of his parents by Biplob and his gang in October 2001. The High Court sentenced Biplob to be imprisoned for life.
Shibir activist Mohsin was beaten to death on September 5, 2000, near Adarsha High School in Lakshmipur. In a case filed with the Lakshmipur police, Biplob and his associates were sentenced to be jailed for life.
A home ministry official said that the ministry on February 8 issued a letter, stating that the president has reduced the life term sentence of AHM Biplob (inmate no-2009/A) to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment, effective from the date of the jail warrant.
Biplob is now serving his jail term in the Lakshmipur jail.