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Dhaka Tribune

SC: Rana Plaza culprits should stay behind bars indefinitely

Update : 13 Nov 2014, 09:53 PM

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court yesterday observed that those responsible for the Rana Plaza disaster “should stay behind bars during their natural lives.”

Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury, member of a four-strong bench at the Appellate Division, made the comment during the hearing of a plea regarding the bail of Rakibul Hasan Rasel, an engineer of Savar municipality, in a case filed in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse.

During yesterday’s hearing, Rasel’s counsel Helal Uddin Molla said: “Rana [the building’s owner] is also on bail. What action has been taken against him? Is the state appealing against his bail?”

At that time, the court asked the government side about Rana’s bail; but no one replied.

Helal again argued: “According to the section 165 (5) of penal code of CrPC, if the investigation cannot be finished within 180 days the accused is eligible for getting bail.”

However, Justice Shamsuddin Choudhury told the defence “it is not mandatory.”

He added that the collapse of Rana Plaza had not only killed thousands of people, but also damaged the economy and reputation of the country.

Observing that the people responsible for the disaster “do not deserve any compassion,” Justice Shamsuddin said: “The engineers, who are responsible for planning to construct Rana Plaza as a nine-storey structure instead of five-storey, are either completely inefficient or corrupt.”

They should not be granted bail, he said, adding that the building’s owner Sohel Rana was the main culprit for the disaster. All of them should stay behind bars during their natural lives, Justice Shamsuddin said.

Defence counsel Helal also asked the court: “Rajuk gave the plan violating our [engineers] note. What action has been taken against them?”

Again, the court asked the prosecution about Rana’s condition in the case.

Representing the state, Additional Attorney General Momotaj Uddin Fakir said: “Rana has acquired  bail in this case, but he is in prison for other cases.”

Following the arguments, the four-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, adjourned hearing in the case until November 16.

Later, Helal Uddin Mollah told reporters that his client was arrested on May 29 last year in the case filed under Building Construction Act 1952, and was granted bail by the High Court on July 15 this year.

 The chamber judge of the Supreme Court stayed the High Court bail order on July 17 for eight weeks, saying that the stay order will stand vacated if the government does not file a leave to appeal with the Supreme Court after eight weeks, Helal said.

The defence counsel added that he brought the issue to the notice of the Supreme Court as the government had filed the leave to appeal 50 days after the expiry of the eight-week deadline.

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