Complete women, children repression cases in 6 months: HC

Dhaka, July 18 – The High Court (HC) on Thursday issued a seven-point directives for the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals across the country to take all legal steps for completing the trial proceedings within 6 months of those cases filed in connection with rape and murder after rape.A HC bench came up with the directives when at least 160,751 cases filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act were pending with the various courts across the country.
Supreme Court sources said, till January 1 this year, a total of a 160,751 cases were pending before the tribunals across the country for disposal. Among these cases, some cases take more than 10 years to get disposed of that resulted immense suffering for the litigants.
As per the section 20 of the Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Daman Ain (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act), 2000, the tribunal has to finish the trial proceedings of a case filed under this law in 180 days after its charge-framing. But, the trial proceedings of the cases filed under this law were not finished within the deadline in most of the cases resulting the immense suffering for the litigants.
The HC bench commented that three to four years old children have been raped by culprits, but the trial proceedings of these cases were not completed quickly, which is very unfortunate.
The HC bench comprising Justice M Enatur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman came up with the directives during appeal hearing of three separate petitions filed by three accused seeking bail in connection with three separate rape incident of Bogura, Dhaka and Noakhali.
After exercising the power of Article 109 of the Constitution, the HC bench issued the 7-point directives for the tribunal judges to ensure justice for rape victims and quick punishment for the offenders.
Article 109 of the Constitution says: ‘The High Court Division shall have superintendence and control over all courts and tribunals subordinate to it.’
In its order, the HC bench directed the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals judges to take all of necessary legal steps to dispose of rape and murder after rape cases within the stipulated time frame of 180 days of starting the trial proceedings of the cases.
The HC bench also directed the tribunals to hold continuous hearing on every working day after it started trial proceedings of the cases under the section 20 of Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000.
It also directed the authorities concerned to form a monitoring committee in every district to ensure the presence of witnesses and their security during the trial proceedings.
The committees would be formed in every district comprising additional district magistrate, additional superintendent of police (administration), a representative from the civil surgeon and the public prosecutor of the related tribunals, according to the HC order.
The public prosecutors of the tribunals across the country will carry out their duties as the coordinators of the monitoring committees and send the reports on its activities to the Supreme Court and the ministries of home and law in every month.
If there are many tribunals in a district, all public prosecutors of that district will include in monitoring committees and aged prosecutor among them will discharge as coordinator of the monitoring committees, the HC order said.
The monitoring committees will be accountable if the stateside failed to produce the witnesses before the court without any satisfactory reason on the scheduled days of hearing of the cases, the HC bench said.
The HC bench also said that the monitoring committee will also look after so that the tribunals could able to issue summon order on the witnesses at the earliest possible of time.
After summon order, if the official witnesses like magistrate, police, doctor, and other experts will not appear before the court without any satisfactory reason, the tribunal would recommend for departmental action against them and it could also consider to order for stopping their salaries if need, the HC order said.
The HC bench opined that the law should be enacted immediately for the protection of the witnesses. The court expected that the government would formulate the witness protection act within very short time.
The HC bench directed the secretaries of home and law and Registrar General of the Supreme Court to take necessary steps for implementing the court orders.
The HC bench rejected the bail appeals of accused Md Rahel alias Rayhan, of Bogura and Sekandar Ali of Dhaka.
However, the HC bench granted bail to another accused Md Sarwar Rubel in such a case of Noakhali.
Every day, hundreds of women and children are denied justice due to the unusually long time it takes to dispose of these cases.
The delayed justice lends impunity to those already accused, and gives encouragement to newer ones, providing no respite on violent crimes committed against women and children, rights groups say.
Records show that 160,751 cases filed under the law were pending across the country till January 1 this year.
The trial of at least 39,396 have not been completed, despite the lapse of more than five years of filing of the cases while the trial of 811 cases have been stayed by the High Court, according to the case management record book of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court data shows that 67,857 cases were filed from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 across the country. Of them, 8,483 cases were filed in Dhaka, 12,155 in Chattogram, 6,015 in Cumilla, 3736 in Sirajganj, 2,622 in Habiganj, and 2,334 cases in Rangpur.
A total of 36,469 out of the 67,857 cases are pending for more than five years, including 1,904 cases with nine tribunals in Dhaka, 1,130 in Gazipur, 2,594 in seven tribunals in Chattagram, 1,357 in Cox’s Bazar, 1,061 in two tribunals in Noakhali, 1,533 in Nagaon, 2,146 in two tribunals in Sirajganj, 1,800 in Bagerhat, and 2,555 in three tribunals in Rangpur. – Staff Reporter