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HC directs to finish trials of rape cases in 6 months

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Staff Reporter :
The High Court (HC) on Thursday issued a seven-point directives for the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals across the country to take all legal steps for completing the trial proceedings within 6 months of those cases filed in connection with rape and murder after rape.
As per the Section 20 of the Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Daman Ain (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act), 2000, a tribunal has to finish the trial proceedings of a case filed under this law in 180 days after its charge-framing. But, the trial proceedings of the cases filed under this law were not finished within the deadline in most of the cases resulting in the immense suffering for the litigants.
The HC Bench commented that three to four years old children had been raped by culprits, but the trial proceedings of these cases were not completed quickly, which is very unfortunate.
The HC Bench comprising Justice M Enatur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman came up with the directives during appeal hearing of three separate petitions filed by three accused seeking bail in connection with three separate rape incidents of Bogura, Dhaka and Noakhali.
After exercising the power of Article 109 of the Constitution, the HC Bench issued the 7-point directives for the tribunal judges to ensure justice for rape victims and quick punishment for the offenders.
Article 109 of the Constitution says: "The High Court Division shall have superintendence and control over all courts and tribunals subordinate to it."
In its order, the HC Bench directed the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals' judges to take all of necessary legal steps to dispose of rape and murder after rape cases within the stipulated time frame of 180 days of starting the trial proceedings of the cases.
The HC Bench also directed the tribunals to hold continuous hearing on every working day after it started trial proceedings of the cases under the Section 20 of Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, 2000.
It also directed the authorities concerned to form a monitoring committee in every district to ensure the presence of witnesses and their security during the trial proceedings.
The committees would be formed in every district comprising Additional District Magistrate, Additional Superintendent of Police (Administration), a representative from the Civil Surgeon and the Public Prosecutor of the related tribunals, according to the HC order.
The Public Prosecutors of the tribunals across the country will carry out their duties as the coordinators of the monitoring committees and send the reports on its activities to the Supreme Court and the Ministries of Home and Law in every month. If there are many tribunals in a district, all Public Prosecutors of that district will include in Monitoring Committee and aged Prosecutor among them will discharge as coordinator of the Monitoring Committee, the HC order said. The monitoring committees will be accountable if the state-side failed to produce the witnesses before the court without any satisfactory reason on the scheduled days of hearing of the cases, the HC Bench said.
The HC Bench also said that the monitoring committees would also look after so that the tribunals were able to summon the witnesses at the earliest possible of time.
After summon order, if the official witnesses like Magistrate, Police, Doctor, and other experts will not appear before the court without any satisfactory reason, the tribunal would recommend for departmental action against them and it could also consider to order for stopping their salaries if need, the HC order said. The HC Bench opined that the law should be enacted immediately for the protection of the witnesses. The court expected that the government would formulate the witness protection act within very short time. The HC Bench directed the Secretaries of Home and Law and Registrar General of the Supreme Court to take necessary steps for implementing the court orders. The HC Bench rejected the bail appeals of accused Md Rahel alias Rayhan of Bogura and Sekandar Ali of Dhaka. However, the HC Bench granted bail to another accused Md Sarwar Rubel in such a case of Noakhali.
Every day, cases were filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act. But, the cases were not disposed of despite the lapses of more than five years in some cases that resulted immense suffering for the litigants.
The delayed justice lends impunity to those already accused, and gives encouragement to newer ones, providing no respite on violent crimes committed against women and children, lawyers concerned opined.

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