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HC asks for info of 11 ACC investigation officers in Jahalam case

  • Published at 10:47 pm August 21st, 2019
High Court-SC-court
File photo of the Bangladesh Supreme Court Dhaka Tribune

A report by the ACC mentioned that it was the investigation officers who were responsible for wrongfully accusing Jahalam of corruption

The High Court has asked the names and particulars of 11 Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials, who were investigating the 26 corruption cases, in which Bangladesh Jute Mill worker Jahalam was wrongfully accused and later indicted. 

The bench of Justices FRM Nazmul Ahasan and KM Kamrul Kader asked for the information after refusing to accept a report submitted by ACC's lawyer, Khurshid Alam Khan, on Wednesday. Deputy Attorney General Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar represented the state. 

The court refused to accept the report as it failed to mention the names and particulars of the 11 investigating officers, the reasons behind their suspension, and other measures that were taken against them, after it was proven ACC had wrongly accused Jahalam mistaking him for someone else.

Jahalam was originally sued in 33 cases over loan fraud and embezzlement of Tk18.5 crore from Sonali Bank Limited. After charges were brought against him in 26 of these cases – where he was mistaken for one Abu Salek – Jahalam was sent to jail in 2016, and incarcerated for three years.

He was freed from jail on February 4 this year, after the High Court acquitted him of all charges. The real accused, Abu Salek, is still absconding.

After the report was submitted, the court said it was "vague". It fixed August 28 as the next date for submitting an appropriate report, with the names and particulars of the officials responsible for making the mistake.

A report conducted by ACC and placed before the High Court on July 12 confirmed it was the ACC investigation officers' mistake that had 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, the report said. 

Wednesday's report was prepared by a one-member ACC committee, led by its Director (legal) Abul Hasnat Md Abdul Wadud. 

Wadud mentioned in the report that Jahalam's case was ACC's very first investigation; a case of such sensitive nature should have been investigated by more experienced and capable officials. 

“Since they were new officials, with very little experience, this mistake happened,” the report added.

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 said.

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

"But a visit to his shabby home would clearly raise the question as to how a man having crores of taka could live in such a poor condition," Wadud mentioned in the report.

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.

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