However, the police refused to provide information regarding this saying that disclosure of such information could obstruct the law enforcement and could endanger public safety.

Later, Saad Hammadi lodged a complaint with the Information Commission after failing to get any information from the police regarding this. The commission held the hearing on the complaint on 11 January. After hearing from both parties, the commission fixed 2 February as the date for verdict.

The verdict was scheduled for 10.30am on Wednesday. However, no verdict was given today.

Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding this, Saad Hammadi said, “The verdict was scheduled for 10.30am Wednesday. I was informed through a mail around 10.00am that due to some unavoidable situations the proceedings of the order had been postponed. The verdict will be given on 22 February at the same time.”

Research official of the Information Commission, Rabeya Hena told Prothom Alo that the commission scheduled activities for Wednesday had been postponed due to some unavoidable reasons. The complainant had been informed about the deferment of the verdict on the complaints on cases under the Digital Security Act (DSA), she added.

Seeking anonymity, another official of the Information Commission told Prothom Alo that the commission postponed its scheduled activities on Wednesday as several commissioners had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Writer, researcher and rights defender Saad Hammadi filed an application under the Right to Information Act to an official of the police headquarters seeking the number of cases filed, number of people accused and arrested under the Digital Security Act.

Later, he appealed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for the information on 18 July as he did not get any response from the police headquarters. Saad Hammadi then lodged a complaint with the Information Commission on 10 August as he did not get any response from the IGP either.

Police issued a letter to Saad Hammadi rejecting his plea. The letter said according to several sub-sections of section-7 of the Right to Information Act of Bangladesh, the information the applicant had asked for is non-disclosable. Disclosure of such information could obstruct law enforcement. It could encourage criminal activities and endanger public safety. The trial of ongoing cases could be hampered by this. It could influence the investigation method, arrests of the offenders and their punishment.

Bangladeshi citizen Saad Hammadi is working at the South Asia regional office of international human rights organisation Amnesty International in Sri Lanka.

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