Monitoring committees to be formed to ensure witnesses’ presence and security in court during hearings
The High Court on Thursday has given seven directives to the judges of Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals across the country and asked them to finish the trials of cases over rape and murder after rape within 180 days.
The bench of justice M Enayetur Rahim and Md Mostafizur Rahman came up with the directives after hearing three bail pleas filed by three accused in separate rape cases.
According to the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000, trials in such cases must finish in 180 days.
The court asked the tribunal judges to hold continuous hearing of the cases on every working day in line with the act’s Section 20.
To ensure witnesses’ presence and safety, monitoring committees will be formed comprising additional district magistrate, additional superintendent of police, a representative of the civil surgeon and the public prosecutor of the tribunal, in order to ensure the presence of the witnesses and their security in court during the hearings.
The public prosecutors will discharge duties as the coordinators of the committees.
The committees will also submit reports on their activities to the Supreme Court and the home and law ministries.
The High Court said that the monitoring committees will be held accountable if the state fail to produce the witnesses before the court on scheduled days.
The tribunals will recommend departmental steps against witnesses, such as magistrate, doctor, police and other experts, if they fail to appear before the court without satisfactory reason and will order suspension of their salaries if necessary.
The court observed that a law was needed to be formulated on an urgent basis in order to provide witness protection services.