HC asks whether RAB has authority to pick anyone up getting verbal charges
The court then said she was under your custody. You can detain if there is any suspicion but that has to be done following a proper legal process
The High Court on Tuesday asked whether Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) can pick anyone up upon receiving any charges verbally.
“Here the jurisdiction of RAB is very important. There is a law for RAB and we will check that. No one should be a victim without any reason, and at the same time, no one is deprived of justice,” the court observed.
The High Court bench comprising justice Farah Mahbub and justice Ahmed Sohel said this while hearing a writ petition filed with the court seeking judicial inquiry into the death of Sultana Jesmin, an office assistant of a union land office, in custody of RAB.
The law enforcement detained Sultana Jesmin from Naogaon town.
The High Court said as per the documents the state produced before the court the victim (Sultana Jesmin) was picked up on 22 March. There was no case filed against her that time. She was not taken to any specific place for interrogation.
Sultana Jesmin was an office assistant of the Chandipur union land office in Naogaon sadar upazila. RAB detained her from Muktir Mor (intersection) in the Naogaon town at around 10:30 am on 22 March. She died under treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on Friday morning.
RAB said Sultana Jesmin was arrested on charges of forgery. Following the arrest she had fallen ill and was taken to hospital. She breathed her last under treatment.
Countering the RAB claim, the relatives of the deceased said Sultana was completely well before the arrest. She died because of torture in RAB custody.
A police official will investigate into the case. RAB has no jurisdiction to investigate this, this is illegal. The law has stipulated that the detainee has to be produced before the court within 24 hours but that was not followed either
Lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmik produced before the same bench a report The Daily Star carried on Monday under the title ‘Woman dies in RAB custody’.
The court during the hearing on the writ petition that day had asked the state to produce some documents, including the post mortem report, on Tuesday. At the same time, lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmik, who drew the court’s attention to the report, was also asked to submit a written plea in this regard. Following this, Manoj Kumar Bhowmik filed the writ.
On the other hand, the state produced documents regarding information recovered from Jesmin’s mobile phone, hospital admission and medical and the inquest reports. But it sought time from the court for producing post mortem report.
The court fixed 5 April for the next hearing.
Lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmik himself took part in the hearing while attorney general AM Amin Uddin accompanied by additional attorney general Sheikh Mohammad Morshed and deputy attorney general Samarendra Nath Biswas represented the state in the court.
Later, attorney general AM Amin Uddin talked to newspersons about the incident at his office. He said her (Sultana Jesmin) inquest report did not mention any injury mark. It would be better if we get the post mortem report. The court has asked to produce the post mortem report by 5 April.
Question is whether she was a victim of torture
Taking part in the hearing, lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmik said, “There is no scope to consider anything here separately. The victim was picked up on 22 March, and was kept detained, the news report says. A case was filed against her under the Digital Security Act (DSA). A police official will investigate into the case."
"RAB has no jurisdiction to investigate this, this is illegal. The law has stipulated that the detainee has to be produced before the court within 24 hours but that was not followed either," he added.
Manoj Kumar Bhowmik said, "Newspaper reports said that the director of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital has seen injury marks in the head. A person has died here. It was the responsibility of the police and RAB to file a case but they did not do that. I’m seeking an unbiased investigation into the matter under the leadership of a retired justice.”
The court asked, "Was the victim an accused in any other case except that of the Digital Security Act? To this lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmik said, no, there was no other case filed against her.
Taking part in the hearing, attorney general AM Amin Uddin said, “The writ petitioner said (Sultana Jesmin) was kept in RAB’s custody for more than 24 hours. Where did he get this (information)? This is completely false information. She was detained at 11:50am on 22 March. (She was) taken to the hospital at around 1:15pm. Later, (she was) shifted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital at around 9:20 pm that day. Section 43 of the Digital Security Act said search, confiscation and arrest can be made without any warrant for those.”
The court said it has been said in the documents that the victim admitted allegations (brought against her) in front of people. The attorney general said afterwards the documents in the phone of the woman was printed out.
The court then said it is being seen that there was no case filed against her when she was picked up. (She) had fallen sick on the way to police station. Was she taken to any place for interrogation?
Attorney general AM Amin Uddin said (she) was not taken to any other place. Will police or RAB not detain anyone after getting information of crime and if that is a cognisable crime? he added.
Following this the court asked, the question is, did the woman die in custody? The attorney general said she did not die in custody of RAB, she died at hospital.
The court then said but she was under your custody. You can detain if there is any suspicion but that has to be done following a proper legal process.
At a stage of hearing, speaking about a section of the Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Act, 2013, attorney general Amin Uddin said a third party can file a case at court in case of torture.
Addressing the attorney general, the court said, “The question to you is there is a (legal) process for whatever violent or nefarious crime a citizen commits. The issue is at the end of the day everything has to be done following proper (legal) process. The record says when the victim was picked up apparently there was no case against her.”
Then the attorney general said we will get the post mortem next week. Then a clear picture can be found.
The court also said everyone is asking whether she was a victim of torture or not? The attorney general said let there be no such conception. The court said, sure, otherwise, there will be questions about your office.
RAB forms investigation committee
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) headquarters on Monday formed a committee to investigate into the death of Sultana Jesmin in the custody of RAB.
Speaking to Prothom Alo on Tuesday afternoon, RAB director (law and media wing) commander Khandaker Al Moin said, “It is being investigated with due importance whether any member of the agency (RAB) had any negligence in connection with the death of Sultana Jesmin. Action surely will be taken if any evidence of negligence is found against anyone. But the investigation will take some time.”