The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has asked the High Court Division to hear and settle within six weeks the rule regarding the confinement of two Marma sisters who had allegedly been sexually assaulted by members of security forces last month in Rangamati.
On Thursday, the four-member Appellate Division bench, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, gave the order after hearing a petition filed by eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal seeking stay on the High Court rule, reports The Daily Star.
The elder sister, 18, who was allegedly raped, and the younger sister, 13, who was sexually assaulted, were admitted to Rangamati Sadar Hospital on January 23 after the incident took place at their house in Orachhari village in Rangamati’s Belaichhari upazila.
Following a petition, the High Court on February 13 had ordered the authorities and Rangamati Sadar Hospital to hand over the girls to their parents.
The court had also issued a rule asking the authorities to explain why the girls’ confinement should not be declared illegal, according to The Daily Star report.
On February 15, the two Marma sisters, in presence of law enforcement officials, were handed over to their parents.
That day Sultana, also co-chair of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC), filed the petition with the Supreme Court seeking stay on the High Court order.
According to her, the girls had wanted to go under the custody of Chakma Circle King Devashish Roy as he would ensure their safety.
Citing Sultana’s petition, The Daily Star also reports that the elder sister recently sent a letter to the civil surgeon of Rangamati to this end and a writ petition over this issue is still pending with the High Court.
Although the two victims reportedly claimed that military personnel were involved, the army detained and handed over an Ansar and VDP member over to his battalion after the sexual assault around midnight on January 22.
The man was later closed to the battalion headquarters and an investigation was on, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate.
Both the army and Ansar, however, have denied any involvement of their personnel in the reported incident.
With protests both in Dhaka and Rangamati and criticisms on social media raging on, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently formed a three-member committee to look into the allegations.
The team was set to meet the Marma sisters on Wednesday and is also expected to submit a report by February 26.