The Awami League government has taken a renewed initiative to withdraw 206 cases including 34 murder cases, according to the home ministry’s records.
During its 2009-13 tenure, the AL-led 14-party alliance government had recommended quashing of as many as 7,198 criminal cases including several sensational murder cases filed during the military-backed caretaker government or the BNP-led four-party alliance government.
However, the new list includes more than 150 cases that were filed by different government agencies and during the two tenures of the AL regime. Some are as new as the ones filed only last year.
The ruling party leaders, especially ministers and members of parliament, who recommended withdrawal of the cases, described these cases as “politically motivated” ones—a claim that legal experts and human rights activists dismissed expressing their surprise how cases filed by the government agencies could be identified so by the government itself.
Alarmingly, these cases involved charges of murder, rape, anarchy, bribery, embezzlement of public money, robbery, possession of illegal arms, black marketeering, kidnapping, forgery, theft and possession and use of illegal arms.
Upon dissolution of the inter-ministry committee formed earlier to recommend quashing of the cases, more recommendations for withdawa of the cases came and the home ministry assigned another committee.
The new committee’s convenor and additional secretary Atiqul Haque said the decision was taken by forming new district level committees and a central committee to deal with such cases.
“The terms of reference say the cases that were filed with a motive of political vengeance shall be withdrawn,” he told Prothom Alo.
When contacted, human rights activist Sultana Kamal asked how a government itself could file a politically motivated cases against its own people. “Who filed the politically motivated cases when only this government is in power for quite a number of years. This appears to be contradictory,” she said.
She insisted that cases related to murder and rape should in no way be quashed.
During 2001-06, the BNP-led alliance government reportedly withdrew 5,888 cases and as a result, 73,541 people managed to avoid trial.
When asked about the latest initiative, lawyer Shahdeen Malik said it is absurd that the opposition leaders and workers would be able to file cases against the ruling party men during the tenure of the present government.
“This is one step forward in politicising the justice system. This will further stigmitise the ruling party,” he added.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Saimul Huda.