A bail forgery racket run by corrupt lawyers is helping arrested criminals get out of jail on bail.
The criminals that have been freed using false documents are mostly drug dealers and murderers, police and court sources told the Dhaka Tribune.
Forgers produce fake certified copies of case statements, seizure lists, charge sheets and even court orders to free their clients from jail, investigators said.
Last month, Dhaka Special Judge’s Court sentenced five court employees to 14 years’ imprisonment each for faking a judge’s signature to secure bail for 106 people accused in 76 cases – the biggest incident of bail forgery in recent times.
Earlier this month, detectives arrested Advocate Md A Samad and his assistant Md Boni Amin with 81 fake Supreme Court, lower court and deputy jailers’ seals.
They had already produced forged documents in 13 cases and are believed to have secured the release of at least 100 people accused of various offences from the jails.
Detective Branch Joint Commissioner Abdul Baten, who busted the forgers, said such cases had become more frequent in the past five or six years.
Cheating the courts
In early April, a High Court bench took action in the most recent incident of document forgery at the High Court, when a murder case defendant’s lawyer allegedly submitted a fake certified copy of a Dhaka district court order.
Justice Obaidul Hassan and Justice Krishna Debnath cancelled the bail and ordered an investigation into the forgery.
In February, the court granted six months’ bail to a defendant in a murder case. A few days later, a co-accused in the case also moved the court with a bail petition.
During the hearing, the court suspected that the bail petitioner or his representatives had forged bail petition documents submitted to the court.
The accused, Kashim, made a confessional statement on the killing of an auto-rickshaw driver in Dhaka’s Nawabganj in 2015. Although two lower courts rejected earlier petitions, the High Court granted him bail.
Some days later, co-defendant Arif Hossain filed his own bail petition. Accordingly, his lawyer submitted a certified copy of Kashim’s confessional statement together with other documents.
The court then discovered that Kashim had concealed information about his confessional statement in his bail petition to the High Court. When summoned, his lawyer told the court that the case had been transferred to him by a lower court lawyer.
The ensuing inquiry revealed that the documents submitted by Kashim were not genuine court documents. They were fakes that had been produced to hide the information in his confessional statement.
Get out of jail free cards
The lower courts have been hit by even more audacious document forgers.
On March 23, police failed to produce two drug dealers – Aktar and Mahbub – before a trial court in Dhaka for a charge-framing hearing because they had already been freed on bail.
Their freedom had been secured by forging fake bail bonds. No bail petitions were ever submitted in any court – forgers simply produced the fake documents.
A similar case took place in March when Shahidul Islam and Ajijul Haque, caught red-handed committing a robbery armed with a pistol in Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area, managed to forge their way out of jail.
The court did not grant either bail. But with the help of fake documents, they are back on Dhaka’s streets.
How forgers operate
Forgeries takes place in two ways.
When an accused whose bail has been rejected by the lower courts moves the High Court for bail, his or her lawyer must submit certified copies of case dockets, including the lower court’s bail rejection order. Fabricated documents are substituted for genuine documents during these filings.
Forgers also use fake High Court seals and signatures to produce fake bail orders which are sent down to the lower courts to get bail bonds issued.
There are instances in which documents notarised with fake court seals and signatures were directly handed over to prison authorities in order to free the accused.
Mizanur Rahman, senior jail superintendent of Kashimpur Central Jail, said: “The number of bail documents that are received each day is not small in number. Jail authorities cannot make phone calls in every case.
“The courts normally ask us to free the accused on bail as promptly as possible. We double-check papers if there is cause for doubt.”
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua said laws exist to try forgers and that lawyers’ enrolment could be cancelled by the Bangladesh Bar Council if they were found to be invloved.
Asked about such complaints against lawyers, the vice-chairman of the Bangladesh Bar Council Advocate Abdul Baset Majumder said: “We have a tribunal to handle professional misconduct.”