The High Court Division on Thursday directed all the Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunals and the district courts to complete the trials in raping and murder after raping cases in 180 days as the law makes it mandatory.
A bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman chastised the tribunals for not complying with the directives it had issued on December 5, 2016.
The directives require each tribunal judge to submit written explanation to the Supreme Court registrar general why he or she had failed to complete crimes against women and children case within the mandatory time frame.
The bench expressed annoyance as none of the tribunal judges in 22 districts and 42 district courts complied with the directives.
The bench said that when any judge was asked to explain why he had failed instead of providing the explanation he lobbied in the law ministry as they prefer to be under the law ministry.
At least 1,64,551 crimes against women and children cases are ending with 58 tribunals in 22 districts and 42 district courts until March 31, according to the SC.
And at least 38, 006 cases are pending for over five years.
Trial of 1,217 cases were stayed by superior courts, according to the SC.
On Thursday the bench issued six fresh directives for speedy disposal of raping cases and murder after raping cases.
The bench said that non disposal of three rape cases for more than a year came to its notice after four detained accused of raping applied for bails due to delays in disposing their cases.
The bench granted bail to rape accused Md Sarower Rubel of Begumganj, Noakhali and his abettor Amran as their trial by Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunal 1 in Noakhali remained pending for over two years.
The bench, however, rejected the bail applications of Rahel alias Raihan whose case was pending with the Bagura Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunal-1, and Sikandar Ali whose case remained pending with the Dhaka Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunal -3 for over a year.
The bench directed the government to form a district monitoring committee comprising of the additional district magistrate, additional superintendent of police for administration, the civil surgeon’s representative and the tribunal’s public prosecutor to ensure the presence and security of witnesses during trials.
As the coordinator of the monitoring committee the tribunal prosecutor would be required to submit monthly reports to the Supreme Court and the ministries of home and law about the committee’s activities.
The court said the monitoring committee will be accountable for the state’s failure to produce any witness at hearings.
The bench also directed the monitoring committees to see whether or not the witnesses were summoned on schedules.
The bench authorized tribunals to recommend departmental action including halting salary payments of official witnesses like magistrates, police, doctors and other experts if they do not appear to testify without satisfactory reasons.
The court said that it would expect that the government would make a witness protection law immediately.
The court found the government’s inaction against failure to complete trials in 180 days though raping become epidemic in the country.
At least six children were raped per day in the 1st seven days of July.
At least 41 children were raped in the first seven days of July while 496 children were raped in the country in six months till June 30, according to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum.
The child rights organisation also reported that six of the children were raped by more than one person and three of them were killed after the rape.
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