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HC: Next hearing on Jahalam case Aug 21

  • Published at 06:13 pm July 16th, 2019
web_Jahalam
File photo of jute factory worker Jahalam, who has spent the last three years in jail instead of the real accused in 33 graft cases Focus Bangla

The High Court has said it will observe steps ACC takes regarding the Jahalam case

The High Court has said it will observe what steps the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) takes regarding the wrongful conviction of Jahalam.

It also set August 21 for the next hearing.

The High Court bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader made the observations on Tuesday after ACC lawyer Khushid Alam Khan read out an ACC report of the investigation into the Jahalam’s wrongful incarceration. 

The bench said since it was an ACC internal report, the court will see what steps the anti-corruption watchdog takes to rectify and compensate for the mistakes. 

The bench also commented as to how a person could open 33 private and public bank accounts without much verification, and asked if this was possible without help from inside the bank.

Earlier, on June 11, an internal report was submitted to the High Court by ACC lawyer Khurshid, for which the court set June 16 as the date of hearing.

The report revealed that the "mistake" made by the investigation officers of the anti-graft watchdog resulted in the wrongful conviction of Jahalam.

The investigation officers' reports on Jahalam's so-called loan fraud, was based on information divulged by Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank, read the report.

Jahalam was sued in 33 cases over loan fraud and embezzlement of Tk18.5 crore from Sonali Bank Limited, leading to his incarceration for three years.

He was freed from jail on February 4 after the High Court acquitted him in 26 cases in which charges had been pressed.

The jute mill worker had been in jail since February 2016, while the real accused, Abu Salek, is still absconding.

On page 18 of the report, the investigator said: "Considering the overall situation, I feel that the mistake in identifying Jahalam as Salek was made by the investigation officers.

"Shockingly, a number of bank officials were not charged in spite of their link to the scam," the report found.

The report also said 12 officials investigated the scam and submitted their findings, but none of them visited Jahalam's hometown in Tangail's Nagorpur upazila. 

He also said that the first case over the fraud was filed back on February 14, 2010 with the Motijheel police station.

Afterwards, police launched an investigation—but the case was later transferred to the ACC which filed the 33 lawsuits. In the meantime, a final report on the first case was also submitted.

"There was no need to file 33 cases [over the embezzlement]," Wadud opined.

Reacting over the report, Amit Das Gupta, a counsel standing for the June 27 High Court directive that asked for the probe report, said it was prepared following thorough investigation.

He said: "I believe the investigation carried out by the committee seems it tried to identify the real culprits. The report also recommended ending repetition of such an incident.

"I hope the ACC will not make the same mistake again," he hoped. 

In the report, ACC Director Wadud placed four recommendations to prevent such wrongful convictions and to the reform the investigation process.

The recommendations are: establishing a monitoring system on inquiry and investigation; introducing the "Trail the Money" system; establishing a Forensic Accounts Department; and adopting a method to cross-check personal statement of the witnesses and the accused.