Appellate Division stays HC verdict on solitary confinement

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The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday stayed till 25 August the High Court judgment that barred keeping people convicted and sentenced to death in condemned cells until their death sentences are finalised through disposal of all their appeals.

Chamber judge of the Appellate Division Justice M Enayetur Rahim passed the order after holding hearing on a state plea and asked to file a civil petition with the apex court regular bench within this time.

“High Court came up with its judgment on 13 May with some directions and observations. There would be a scope for contempt petition as per existing rules if these directions are not stayed. We had raised a couple of legal questions regarding the High Court judgment. We would file civil petition right after receiving the full text of the High Court judgment,” Attorney General AM Amin Uddin said.

A High Court Division bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Bazlur Rahman pronounced the judgment on 13 May, disposing of a rule issued earlier in 2022.

Advocate Mohammad Shishir Manir moved a writ petition filed in this regard, while Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder stood for the state.

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"The writ was filed in 2021 on behalf of three death row convicts, who have been kept in condemned cells in Chattogram, Sylhet and Cumilla jails.

The High Court later passed an order, asking authorities concerned to submit a report in writing on the facilities provided to 1,987 death row convicts in different jails across the country. It subsequently issued the rule," lawyer Manir said on that day.

Quoting the court judgment, the Supreme Court lawyer further said the convicts cannot be termed as death-row-convicts and cannot be kept in condemned cells until their death sentences are finalized.

"The death-row convict only be kept in solitary confinement when all their appeals, including the mercy petition, are disposed of and all the official formalities are completed," he added.