Law minister will write to CJ for action against judge

Law Minister Anisul Haque has said that he will send a letter to the chief justice asking to take action against the judge who gave the verdict in the case filed over the rape of two students at the Raintree Hotel in Banani.

The minister made the statement while addressing the press at the Supreme Court premises on Saturday. 

The minister declined to comment on the verdict, but said the judge’s observation while passing the verdict was illegal and unconstitutional.

“I will write a letter to the Chief Justice [on Sunday] to take action against the judge over the matter,” he said.

Judge Begum Mosammat Kamrun Nahar of Dhaka’s Seventh Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal on Thursday acquitted all five accused charged with the reported rape of two private university students at an upscale hotel in the capital’s Banani area in 2017.

Shafat Ahmed, his friend Shadman Sakif, Nayeem Ashraf alias Halim, Shafat’s driver Billal, and bodyguard Rahmat Ali were acquitted as the charges brought against them had not been proven, the court said. 

The judge asked police to refrain from receiving a case if a rape survivor came to the police station more than 72 hours after the incident. 

“Semen stains cannot be traced after 72 hours," the judge had said.

Judge Kamrun Nahar made the observation while passing the verdict, referring to the complainant going to the police station 38 days after the incident.

The accused had a consensual physical relationship with the women, the court observed, adding that the investigating officer of the case had pressed charges against the five accused despite the lack of evidence.

The complainant filed the case against Shafat and four others after being incited by Faria Mahbub Piyasha, former wife of Shafat, the judge said.

She said: “You are saying that this case is an important one but I don’t think so. To us [judiciary], every case is important. In this case, nothing was found in the medical report and the doctors could not submit any proof [in favor of rape].”

The court said that the victims in the case were not credible in their accusations. The judge also made some observations regarding the two women’s lifestyle and physique.

Hours after the verdict by a Dhaka tribunal acquitting five persons of rape charges, rights activists and people from different occupations took to the streets at midnight on Thursday and held a torch procession from Shahbagh to the Jatiya Sangsad.

The protesters took the street on Friday and Saturday as well. 

Sara Hossain, the executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), told Dhaka Tribune that human rights activists could also send letters to the chief justice. “This kind of step might have a positive impact on future cases and judges will make rational verdicts.”

The Supreme Court holds the right to take action against a judge, she added.  

Govt to repeal provision in law on rape

Meanwhile, the government has decided to scrap the provision of the 1872 Evidence Act that allows for the victim’s character to be questioned in a rape case.

The amendment bill for the law is likely to be tabled in parliament during the session in January, Law Minister Anisul Huq told BBC Bangla.

“In addition to scrapping this provision, we have taken the initiative to amend a few other provisions,” the minister said.

He added that the amendments will take time, and hence cannot be tabled in parliament this month.

Section 155 (4) of the Evidence Act reads: “When a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character.”

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