The High Court Division on Thursday asked the government to ensure further health examination of detained acclaimed photographer, writer and rights activist Shahidul Alam to determine whether or not he was tortured physically or mentally in the custody of the Detective Branch.
A bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir asked the home secretary to submit Shahidul Alam’s health report to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court by Monday.
The court also directed the home secretary to get Shahidul Alam examined by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital to determine whether he was physically and mentally tortured in the custody of DB.
The bench asked the concerned court to take action in accordance with the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act 2013, if on medical examination it was found that Shahidul Alam was tortured in custody.
The court issued the fresh directives after hearing Shahidul Alam’s health examination report for 90 minutes.
BSMMU’s four professors who examined Shahidul Alam said in their medical report that he was ‘physically and mentally sound’ and there was ‘no abnormality’ in his health condition.
The government submitted Shahidul Alam’s health report to the court to comply with its previous order issued on Tuesday after hearing a writ petition filed by Shahidul Alam’s partner, writer and columnist Rahnuma Ahmed seeking a directive to shift Shahidul Alam from DB’s custody to the BSMMU for treatment.
The bench, however, did not entertain Rahnuma’s other prayer to issue a directive to the government and the police to explain why the order of additional chief metropolitan magistrate Asaduzzaman Noor allowing the DB to Shahidul Alam in its remand for seven days without recording his statement that he was physically and mentally tortured soon after his arrest would not be declared unlawful and in gross violation of the Appellate Division’s standing directives and guidelines to magistrates for sending detained people on remands.
Her another prayer to issue a directive to the government and the police to explain why the method the DB used to arrest Shahidul Alam would not be declared as illegal and gross violation of the Appellate Division’s standing directives and guidelines to the police and other law enforcement agencies for arresting people.
Rahnuma’s lawyer Sara Hossain objected to the medical report as it was silent about whether or not Shahidul Alam was physically and mentally tortured.
Sara submitted that in his statement Shahidul Alam informed magistrate Asaduzzaman Noor that he was mercilessly tortured physically and mentally by the DB soon after he was picked up from his home.
Sara also submitted that the magistrate also did not record Shahidul Alam’s statement in gross violation of the law while allowing the DB to take him on remand for seven days.
Sara submitted that magistrate Noor only uttered ‘heard and saw’ while granting the remand for interrogation.
Sara submitted that the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act 2013 requiring magistrates to objectively record statement of detained persons was grossly violated by not recording Shahidul Alam’s statement while sending him on remand.
The remand was granted for interrogation into a case was filed against him under Section 57 of the Information Communication Technology (Amendment) Act 2006 just after he was picked up on suspicions that he made provocative propaganda against the government on his facebook post.
Sara Hossain called the medical report was not in compliance with the court’s order as the doctors only examined whether or not Shahidul Alam was ill though the court had given a clear directive to get him examined whether or not was physically and mentally tortured.
She submitted that no psychologist was in the BSMMU’s medical team that examined Shahidul Alam.
She submitted that Shahidul Alam was tortured mentally by DB immediately after he was picked up by creating pressure on him that his wife Rahnuma Ahmed would also be picked up if he did not give information the DB was trying to extract from him.
She submitted that the medical report was also silent about the injury on Shahidul Alam’s bleeding nose due to torture.
Sara Hossain submitted that the manner used by plainclothes police to pick up Shahidul Alam at the dead of night by handcuffing and blindfolding him was illegal.
She submitted that he spent the rest of the night in DB’s undeclared custody in that condition.
Sara Hossain submitted that the attorney general referred to Shahidul Alam as son of so and so not knowing that his father Quazi Abul Monsur was a well-known freedom fighter.
In his submissions, attorney general Mahbubey Alam said that there was no symptom of torture on Shahidul Alam.
The attorney general prayed for summary rejection of Rahnuma’s writ petition calling it as not maintainable.
He said that there noting wrong occurred in arresting Shahidul Alam and subsequently sending him on remand on specific allegation that he had made provocative statements in his facebook post and in the interview broadcast by Al-Jazeera to instigate the students’ movement for road safety.
Sara Hossain was assisted by Kamal Hossain, Shahdeen Malik, Jyotirmoy Barua and Tanim Hossain Shawon.