The High Court on Monday expressed concerns as the police continued to arrest people and file cases under the repealed Section 16(2) of the Special Powers Act 1974.
The section, which had empowered the police to arrest and prosecute people for holding secret meetings in an attempt to topple an elected government, was repealed by Justice Shahabuddin Ahmad-led caretaker government in 1991.
In a ruling issued suo moto, the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman asked the home secretary and the inspector general of police to ensure that no police station recorded any case under the repealed section.
The court issued the ruling after two accused surrendered to the court seeking bail in a case filed on May 24 by Singair police station sub-inspector Sohel Rana against 36 named and 50-60 unnamed people under the repealed section.
The police officer accused the people of holding a secret meeting at the house of accused Manjurul Islam at Gobindal Natunchhar village on May 23 in an attempt to topple the elected government in the name of movement for the release of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The court granted anticipatory bail for six months to the petitioners – Manikganj court lawyer Md Habibur Rahman Lalu and Singair Sadar union parishad chairman Sajedul Alam Swadhin.
Petitioners’ lawyer Manto Chandra Ghosh argued that in 1991, the then government omitted the section through an amendment to the Special Powers Act 1974, but cases were still being filed and accused of the cases were being arrested illegally under the omitted section.
He said that the Singair police named the petitioners in the case under the repealed section calling them BNP and Jamaat activists but they were not involved in any political party.
Assistant attorney general Yousuf Mahmud Morshed told reporters that Section 16(2) of the Special Powers Act 1974 had prescribed jail for five years and fine for any prejudicial act.
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