When a justice system does not consider miscarriages of justice as a crime, can it ensure justice? When a justice system is reluctant to indemnify for the suffering that has been caused to the innocent person like Jaha Alam for the faults of its stakeholders, can it ensure justice? Asks Sadiya S Silvee
ON FEBRUARY 3, 2019, Jaha Alam got released from Kashimpur Central Jail 2 in Gazipur after spending immutable three years in jail. At the moment, all of Bangladesh is busy discussing the injustice that happened to Jaha Alam. Jaha Alam had languished in jail for three long years due to being wrongly identified for one business man Abu Salek. He was arrested in connection with cases filed by the Anti Corruption Commission for misappropriation of Sonali Bank money. The victim of wrongful imprisonment and his relatives had told the ACC, police, as well as the judges in the court that they have mistaken him for the real accused and he is innocent, but their plea fell on deaf ear until National Human Rights Commission through their investigation revealed the miscarriage of justice in April 2018. Everybody is busy scrutinising, analysing his case and possibility of such cases while enjoying their morning tea. While we do so, it is important to ask, is it a new incident?
In the Death Reference no 41 of 2011 that waited till April 4, 2017 for its confirmation lead ten condemned-prisoners to suffer in jail for more than six years. Double the agony Jaha Alam faced.
Similarly, in Death Reference no 15 of 2011, the accused was convicted and sentenced by the Trial Court on March 28, 2011. Since then he was in the condemned-prison until acquitted by the High Court Division on July 20, 2017. In another case, Death Reference no 11 of 2012, one innocent person was sentenced to death by the Trial Court and was acquitted by the HCD. Same goes with Death Reference no 58 of 2011, where out of four accused persons two were awarded death sentence by the Trial Court, and two were awarded imprisonment for life. However, the HCD has acquitted them all. The list does not end here, with the Death Reference no 62 of 2011, three innocent people were imprisoned for life and later got acquitted by the HCD. The story was not different in Death Reference No. 40 of 2010, where two innocent people were imprisoned for life and later got acquitted by the HCD. In Death Reference no 23 of 2011, Death Reference no 27 of 2011, Death Reference no 44 of 2011, Death Reference no 43 of 2011, Death Reference no 63 of 2013, and Death Reference no 11 of 2011 at least one or two people got acquitted by the HCD. So, our system has witnessed many cases like Joy Mia and Jaha Alam. Some time, even worst. However, their story has never seen the light and got lost among other stories of the miscarriage of justice. But are we ready to call these cases as the miscarriage of justice? When a justice system holds an unknown number of innocent persons in jail arbitrarily violating their fundamental rights, this indicates that the system is ensuring pretended justice. Now, why pretended justice?
When a justice system does not consider miscarriages of justice as a crime, can it ensure justice? When a justice system is reluctant to indemnify for the suffering that has been caused to the innocent person like Jaha Alam for the faults of its stakeholders, can it ensure justice? A justice system that falls short to punish the persons whose negligence, irresponsibility, greed, and inefficacy have caused such miscarriages of justice leading the innocent persons, like Jaha Alam to suffer, can it ensure justice?
Sadiya S Silvee is a research assistant at Bangladesh Institute of Law and International affairs and assistant country director (Bangladesh) at Global Peace Chain.
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