HC directs to send back civil appeal cases at CHT courts to Divisional Commissioner

High courtFile photo

The High Court on Monday directed that under trial appeals against civil case orders cannot be transferred to three Chittagong Hill Tracts district courts for hearing from the offices of Chattogram Divisional Commissioner and Additional Divisional Commissioner.

A special bench of justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and justice SM Kuddus Zaman passed the order during a reference on two legal questions in this regard.

The bench also directed to immediately send back the undisposed appeals in cases civil in nature and other such legal procedures transferred to these courts from the divisional commissioner’s office.

The Chattogram Divisional Commissioner will dispose of these appeals as they did before 2003, amendment of law for appeals against deputy commissioner’s orders in civil cases, said the court.

The court, however, also said already disposed cases at Chittagong Hill Tracts courts sent from the divisional office will be considered passed and closed.

Any other courts cannot raise questions regarding the orders given by CHT district judge courts in these cases though it does not fall under their jurisdiction, said the High Court.

Until establishment of district judge courts at Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari on 1 July, 2008, deputy commissioners of these districts used to dispose of all cases. Besides, appeals against those orders were made to the Chattogram divisional commissioners.

According to the provisions of Chittagong Hill Tracts Act (Amended), 2003, all criminal case appeals and other criminal cases from divisional commissioner and additional divisional commissioner’s office will be transferred to district session judge courts.

But the undisposed civil case appeals, revisions and such other legal procedures were not to be transferred according to the provisions.

However, the district judges have been disposing of all civil case appeals and revisions transferred from the divisional and additional divisional commissioner’s offices until now.

Few months ago, Bandarban’s additional district judge sent a reference to the registrar general of the Supreme Court seeking to resolve two legal questions in this regard.

The two questions of reference are -- whether the pending appeal or revision or any other legal proceedings filed with the divisional commissioner of Chittagong division or additional divisional commissioner against the judgment or order of civil nature case given by district deputy commissioner prior establishment of district judge courts can be legally transferred to that court?

Besides, if the divisional commissioner or additional divisional commissioner transferred such civil nature legal proceeding to the district judge court for trial and settlement whether it is legally defensible?

After the reference was sent to Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique he formed a special bench for hearing.

On 31 October, the bench asked Attorney General AM Amin Uddin, senior lawyers AF Hasan Arif, Rokon Uddin Mahmud, Prabir Neogi and Raja Devasish Roy to give expert opinion in this regard as amici curiae (friends of court).

According to the order, from now on, civil cases in the three hill districts will be filed in the Joint District and Sessions Judge Courts and appeals against them will be filed in the District Sessions Judge Court.

But the divisional commissioners will have to dispose of the appeal against civil cases settled by district deputy commissioners before the establishment of the district judge courts in those districts.