HC not satisfied over judges' explanation granting Pori Moni's remand

Police escort Pori Moni to the court.
Prothom Alo file photo

The High Court is not satisfied over the two lower court judges’ explanation on the ground that film actress Pori Moni was placed on remand for the second and third times in a narcotics case

“The magistrates do not believe they have made mistakes and the High Court has been undermined,” the High Court said on Wednesday.

Two metropolitan magistrates Debabrata Biswas and Atikul Islam submitted separate written explanations to the High Court bench concerned on Tuesday via the Supreme Court registrar general's office.

The explanations were presented before the High Court bench of justices Mustafa Zaman Islam and K M Zahid Sarwar on Wednesday. The High Court set 29 September to deliver its next order on the matter after hearing.

On 4 August, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Pori Moni after a raid at her residence in the capital’s Banani area.

RAB filed a narcotics case against her at the Banani police station. After that, the police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) interrogated her three times in a total of seven days in remand.

Pori Moni later sought bail from the Dhaka’s chief metropolitan magistrate (CMM) court, but she was denied. After that, she filed the bail petition with the Dhaka metropolitan and sessions judge court.

As the sessions judge court delayed the hearing, her lawyers filed a petition with the High Court for an early hearing. The High Court then issued a rule. After that, the sessions judge court conducted the hearing and granted her bail on 31 August. Pori Moni was released from jail on the next day.

Meanwhile, questions arose during the High Court’s hearing on remand granted to Pori Moni in several phases.

The High Court on 2 September sought explanation from the two lower court judges within 10 days on the ground of Pori Moni's second and third phases of remand.

The High Court also ordered the investigation officer of the case Golam Mostafa to appear before it on 15 September and explain himself.

Following the High Court order, the explanations of the two lower court judges were submitted to the High Court on Wednesday and the investigation officer also appeared before the top court.

Dhaka’s metropolitan magistrate Debbrata Biswas placed Pori Moni on remand for two days in the second phase while Atikul Islam placed her on remand for three days in the third phase.

Sources said the two magistrates, in separate written explanations, elaborated the reasons for granting the remand stating if there was any mistake occurred in the remand order it was unintentional or based on trust.

The two magistrates apologised to High Court for their mistakes, if any and requested the top court to accept their explanations and exempt them from further explanation.

'Magistrates teach High Court a lesson'

When the matter was placed before the top court around 11:00am on Wednesday, the High Court said, “Two magistrates were served with show-cause notices and they have given their reply. Let’s read out a portion of it.”

At the time, deputy attorney general Abu Yahia Dulal said the investigation officer was also ordered to appear before the court.

The court then said, “We see he has come. He is here.”

After that, the top court told senior lawyer and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) executive member ZI Khan Panna, “Learned magistrates teach the court some lessons. And we are reading it out. The state has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward narcotics. The accused in this case is arrested in possession of foreign liquor, LSD and ice. The question is if foreign liquor and LSD is found, what is punishment for it?”

ZI Khan Panna then replied, “The sentence can be five years in jail.”

The court said, “It will have to make clear that what will be the term of the sentence as per the amount of seized LSD and ice?”

Assistant attorney general Mizanur Rahman then said, “The punishment for LSD will be similar to that of the sentence as per the amount of yaba pills.”

The court said, “Then it can be two to five years.” ZI Khan Panna said, “My lord, it will be five years.”

Reading out from the magistrates’ written explanations, the court said, “Following the mysterious death of a Dhaka University student, entire people of the country have learned how much dangerous the LSD is. LSD is also said to be a hallucinogenic drugs. After taking LSD, that student took a knife from a green coconut seller and chose to kill himself by slitting his throat.”

The court said, “We had directed the magistrates to explain why the remand was granted in the second and the third phases? And they stated a Dhaka University student took a knife from a green coconut seller and slit his throat himself after taking LSD. Here the magistrate is against the instruction of the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division and the existing laws. That’s why we are not satisfied over their explanation. And we are fixing the 29 September for the next order.”

The court then said the investigation officer placed a CD. The investigation officer will have to appear in the court on the said date.

At that time, senior lawyer ZI Khan Panna said, “May we get a copy of the magistrates’ explanations.”

The court replied, “The matter is under trial. That is why portion of it was read out. Let me read out a bit more.”

“I (metropolitan magistrates Debabrata Biswas) granted a two-day remand after overall consideration of the matter. Any mistake occurred during the order is purely unintentional and based on trust," the court read out.

Citing the magistrates don’t believe they made mistake, the court said, “The High Court has been undermined.”

ZI Kahn Panna then said, “Absolutely right, if there is a mistake.”

The assistant attorney general said, “29 September has been fixed for the next order and can the investigation officer be exempted from appearing in-person before the court?”

“The investigation officer must appear on the said day. His explanation is necessary. He must explain. He can explain himself or through a lawyer,” the court replied.