302 returnees deprived of their rights, say experts17 September 2020
Gulam Rabbani and Rafiq Rafi :
A question has been raised when will the 302 Bangladeshis, who returned from abroad after getting amnesty during the coronavirus pandemic, get release from jail.
The question raised by their relatives and guardians recently as the lower courts rejected bail applications placed by some of the returnees though there was no cognizable allegation against them.
Law experts and rights activists say that the fundamental rights to enjoy protection of law have been curtailed in case of 302 Bangladeshis who returned from abroad after getting amnesty during the coronavirus pandemic.
They also said an accused cannot be detained for an indefinite time after being arrested under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Any accused can get bail after being arrested under the section if there is no cognizable allegation against him/her, according to the legal experts.
The relatives of the confined persons said that they were not getting legal remedy over the issue. They want release of the returnees on bail but the courts were rejecting the bail applications though there was no specific allegation against them.
A total of 302 Bangladeshis were confined in the jails of Kuwait, Qatar, Vietnam and Bahrain after they had been
convicted for their involvement in various criminal activities. But the government of those countries pardoned them and sent them back to Bangladesh due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though they got amnesty in the abroad, they failed to get it in their own country. After returning to Bangladesh, all of them were arrested under Section 54 by the law enforcers of Turag Police Station. Later they were sent to jail by the courts. Currently all of them are in jail.
Officer in Charge of the Turag Police Station, Nurul Muttakin, told The New Nation that his two colleagues were investigating the cases of the returnees and it would take more time. Court will decide over their release after submitting the probe reports, added the OC.
One case is investigating Sub-Inspector Mohamamd Safiullah and another is investigating Sub-Inspector Anwarul Islam.
A Dhaka court on July 4 this year sent 219 returnees to jail. Among them 141 returned from Kuwait, 39 from Qatar and 39 from Bahrain. And on September 1, another court sent 83 other persons, who returned from abroad, to jail after police had shown them arrested under section 54 of penal code. Of them, 81 returned from Vietnam and two from Qatar.
In one case the court fixed September 3 for submitting an investigation report against 219 returnees. But the IO could not submit the report and sought 30 days time from the court. Then the court granted him time and fixed September 20 for submitting the report.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the confined persons said that they want release of the returnees on bail. However, the prosecution said in the hearing that if they were released now, they could be involved in various criminal activities including theft, robbery and snatching.
Amir Hossain, father of Aminul Islam who is a returnee from Qatar, said, he went to the court seeking bail for his son but rejected. Same allegation raised guardians of some other returnees.
Advocate AM Amin Uddin, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), said if the accused were rejected bail in the lower court even though there was no cognizable charge against them, they could now move to the High Court for remedy.
Barrister Shihab Uddin Khan, another lawyer of the SC, said that it was a legal right of an accused to get bail in a case where there was no specific allegation against him/her.