Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua is providing legal assistance to the victim, woman lawyer, in the case filed under the Digital Security Act. He confirmed that the judge created a pressure on his client to negotiate with the accused. However, the case is not negotiable as his client has filed it under certain section of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.
Sources said the victim wrote a letter against that judge to the chief justice and the registrar general on 4 April.
The victim told Prothom Alo that he was coming to Dhaka from Cox’s Bazar by Saintmartin Paribahan on 4 December 2020. At the time, she worked as a lawyer at a project of an international agency in Cox’s Bazar. The accused also travelled that night on the same bus and sat next to her. He then sexually harassed her. As the situation worsened, she called 999.
Police from Chattogram’s Lohagara police station arrived and rescued her and also detained the accused. Following the incident, she filed a case with Lohagara police station. The investigating officer of the case found the allegation to be true and submitted a charge sheet to the court. The case is now pending at Chattogram’s Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-2.
The woman alleged the accused had been creating pressure and threatening her. In the meantime, the accused was recommended for recruitment as an assistant judge in the Bangladesh judicial service on 25 November. As the news broke on concealing information of on-going criminal case, the ministry concerned suspended his joining.
On 7 December last year, the accused filed a case against the victim, her husband, younger sister and friend under the Digital Security Act. On 10 February this year, they secured a four-week anticipatory bail from the High Court. A month later, they surrendered to the court and sought bail. The court then granted bail to the husband and sent others to jail. They were released from jail on bail after seven days.
In absence of the woman, the accused continued creating pressure on her husband in various ways and threaten him to withdraw the case. The accused even secured a bond from him stating the victim woman would compromise over the matter. The woman and others were scheduled to appear before the metropolitan magistrate court on 3 April. On that day, they learned that the accused filed a plea seeking cancellation of the victim’s bail petition in the case filed under Digital Security Case since they did not agreed to compromise.
At that time, the court ordered both parties to settle the cases filed against each other and come to the court after two days. After conducting the hearing, the judge gave the woman 30 minutes to settle the matter. She was also asked to sign a bond stating she would withdraw the case.
The victim said after two hours, the judge called her along with her husband and counsel to the judge’s private room where the judge forced them to negotiate. She learned that the accused was known to the judge beforehand. The case was filed against the woman, her family and friend under the Digital Security Act to force them to withdraw the sexual harassment case.
The judge played a role of associate of the accused. “This is a specific professional misconduct,” she said.
When asked on the letter, Supreme Court spokesperson Md Saifur Rahman told Peothom Alo he would talk about it after looking into the matter.
The accused of the case, which was filed by the woman, told Prothom Alo he would not talk about the matter that is currently under trial.
The woman in her letter to the chief justice and the registrar general wrote, “I am doubtful that as a citizen and a lawyer of the country I will be deprived of justice.”
*This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna