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27th-May-2018

Anti-Terrorism special tribunals not working for quick disposal

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NEWS media reported that the two Anti-terrorism Special Tribunals formed last month for quick trial of militancy and terrorism cases are now working at a snail's pace. A small number of cases have been transferred to the tribunals while shortages of courtrooms and manpower are acute. After forming the tribunals in Dhaka and Chattogram through a statutory regulatory order on April 5 this year, nine years after the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009, the stalling of cases is unwanted.
The government's focus on the special tribunals is non-existent as the tribunal in Dhaka has to share a courtroom with the Speedy Trial Tribunal-3 due to a shortage of rooms. The tribunal can only sit in the afternoon after the activities of the other tribunals end. The tribunal has a judge, a stenographer, a Bench assistant and a driver but public prosecutors for both the tribunals are yet to be appointed. As per the law, a judge of a tribunal shall conclude the trial of a case within six months from the date of framing of charges. If the judge fails to conclude the trial by the time, the judge may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time by no more than three months. If the judge fails again to conclude the trial within that time, the High Court Division may grant another three months to conclude the trial.
Available data showed that 564 militant suspects managed to secure bail between January 2016 and September 2017 and police have no clue as to where nine of them are now. They may be inclined to more violent terrorist activities within this time. A total of 908 militancy cases have been lodged under the anti-terrorism act across the country between 1999 and September 2017. Verdicts have been delivered in only 12.44 percent of those cases (113 cases) while 619 are under trial and 289 are being investigated.
The slow progress in proceedings of cases often creates opportunities for terrorist suspects to secure bail and go into hiding. Quick disposal of justice is all time helpful to maintain law and order, on the other hand delaying justice is similar to denying justice.
We hope, the Special Tribunals will only deal with militancy cases and that it will solve the longstanding problems of delayed trials by completing trials within the tight deadlines set by the law.