The Appellate Division on Sunday upheld the High Court’s stay on investigations into the case filed by the Detective Branch under Section 57 of the now repealed Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 against social activist and acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam.
A four-judge bench chaired by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain also directed justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury-led High Court bench to dispose of the High Court ruling in Shahidul Alam’s case by December 18.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam vehemently opposed the Appellate Division’s order for upholding the stay on investigations against Shahidul Alam.
He said Shahidul Alam would again start his verbal barrage aimed at the government and would continue to dub it as ‘illegal’ if the High Court’s stay on investigation was continued.
The chief justice responded with a smile and wanted to know from him whether a government could be perceived as ‘illegal’ because one had said so.
He also wanted to know why the government came four months after the High Court had stayed the investigations.
In a ruling on March 14, the High Court Division had stayed the investigations against Shahidul Alam and asked the home secretary, the inspector general of police, the DB, Ramna police station officer-in-charge and the Dhaka chief metropolitan magistrate to explain in four weeks why the probes under the repealed Section 57 of ICT Act would not be declared as illegal as the repealed Section was contradictory to the Section 61(2) of the Digital Security Act 2018 and inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution in articles 27, 31and 39.
On Sunday the Appellate Division issued the directive after disposing of an application filed by the government in March for vacating the HC stay on investigations the DB had begun against Shahidul Alam after filing the ICT case under the now repealed draconian Section 57.
Shahidul Alam was detained in Dhaka Central Jail for 108 days and released on bail on November 20, 2018 on High Court Division’s order.
On the midnight of August 5, 2017, DB men in plain clothes picked up 63-year-old Shahidul Alam from his Dhanmondi residence without showing any warrant or ground. His detention drew huge criticisms at home and abroad.
Fifteen hours later, the DB filed a case against him under the now repealed Section 57 of the ICT Act, which was later replaced by the Digital Security Act.
In the case, DB alleged that Shahidul Alam had instigated school children’s movement for road safety in July 2018.
Former attorney general AF Hassan Ariff and barrister Sara Hossain appeared for Shahidul Alam.
We were pleased with the recent development and the way the legal procedure finally upheld the rights of the acclaimed photographer to voice his opinion, said Sara Hossain.
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