The High Court on Wednesday granted six-month bail to cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, a co-accused of writer Mushtaq Ahmed, who has died in prison recently, in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.
The online bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman granted Kishore bail after holding a brief hearing.
The court considered Kishore’s bail, stating that he has been in jail for a long period — 10 months— and the case is pending for further investigation by the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of the police.
The court dropped the bail prayer of writer Mushtaq Ahmed after his lawyer Jyotirmoy submitted an affidavit to the court confirming his death in the High-Security Jail in Kashimpur on February 25.
Earlier, Mushtaq, Kishore, Rastrachinta organiser Didarul Islam Bhuiyan and Dhaka Stock Exchange director Minhaz Mannan Emon were arrested on May 5, 2020 on charge of tarnishing the image of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hurting the spirit of the liberation war and spreading rumours about COVID-19, the government, the army and other security forces on social media.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the court inquired to Jyotirmoy whether Mushtaq had filed a bail petition earlier in the High Court.
Jyotirmoy said that another bench of the High Court denied Mushtaq’s bail as his the then lawyer could not satisfy the court.
Justice Enayetur remained silent for a moment.
‘We are trying to know the facts as various reports appeared in the newspapers over the repeated denial of Mushtaq’s bail,’ the judge said.
Jyotirmoy told the judge that in the same case, the High Court bench led by him on September 14, 2020 granted six months’ ad-interim bail to Rastrachinta organiser Didarul and the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court granted bail to Minhaz Mannan on September 7, 2020.
Lawyer ZI Khan Panna told New Age that he moved Mushtaq’s bail petition in the bench of Justice Md Rezaul Haque and Justice Md Atoar Rahman in December 2020 but it denied the bail as the government vehemently opposed the bail.
On January 21, Mushtaq and Kishore jointly petitioned the High Court’s bench led by justice Enayetur seeking their bail in the case.
According to a prison officer, Mushtaq and Kishore had shared a room in the prison until Mushtaq’s death.
Mushtaq while he was awaiting the hearing of his bail prayer by the High Court bench was declared dead on February 25 after he had fallen unconscious in jail.
Jyotirmoy said that Mushtaq and Kishore were previously denied bail six times by metropolitan courts.
‘We brought the matter of Kishore’s illness to the notice of the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judges’ Court seeking his bail on January 6 but the court denied the bail,’ Jyotirmoy said, adding, ‘Mushtaq Ahmed died in custody suffering from illness as he had also been denied bail’.
Kishore is ill, his right ear is almost inactive and his left leg has an infection due to torture in custody, Jyotirmoy told the High Court seeking his bail.
He said that when Mushtaq and Kishore were produced before a metropolitan magistrate court on February 23, when their bails were denied for the last time, Kishore informed the court about his illness following the torture in police custody.
Justice Enayetur rebuked Jyotirmoy for not submitting an affidavit to the court about Kishore’s allegation of torture in custody.
‘We have noticed that you talked about many things on the issue giving interviews to the media but you have not filed an affidavit to the court over the matter,’ the judge said.
About Kishore’s bail plea, deputy attorney general Sarwar Hossain Bappi left the matter to the court.
He, however, said that the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime is due to submit its fresh probe report in the case to the Cyber Crimes Tribunal in the capital on March 21.
He said that Ramna police sub-inspector Mohsin Sarder submitted a charge sheet against Mushtaq, Kishore and Didar and dropped the names of eight others on January 15, after four investigation officers of the case had been changed.
Sarwar said that the Rapid Action Battalion filed the case with the Ramna police station on May 5, 2020 against 11 persons, including Mushtaq, Kishore, Didar and Emon as well as Netra New’s journalist Tasneem Khalil, US-based journalist Shahed Alam, Saer Zulkarnain, admin of I am Bangladeshi Facebook’s Page and Germany-based blogger Asif Mohiuddin.
He said that the cyber tribunal following an appeal of the government, asked the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit to hold a fresh inquiry into the DSA case as charges were pressed against Mushtaq, Kishore and Didar, dropping the names of Tasneem Khalil, Shahed Alam, Saer Zulkarnain and Asif Mohiuddin from the charge sheet as they were abroad.
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