Fictitious cases have reappeared as the parliamentary election is knocking at the door. Besides, previous fictitious cases are also being revived. A fair election will not be possible unless this lodging of fictitious cases is stopped.
These observations were made by discussants at a webinar titled ‘Fictitious cases and the next election’, organised by Forum for Bangladesh Studies on Sunday. Former judges, teachers and journalists were present at the virtual programme.
Two discussants compared fictitious cases with 'gayebi namaaz-e-janaza' while Professor Asif Nazrul of the law department at Dhaka University analysed why most of the fictitious cases are being lodged under the explosives act.
The discussants also said the incidents of filing fictitious cases was introduced in the country in 2018 to ensure the victory of the governing party at the time, Bangladesh Awami League. Leaders and activists of the opposition party cannot remain active on the day of polling because of the fictitious cases filed on political consideration. As a result, the ruling party can rig votes freely.
One of the discussants, Appellate Division’s retired justice MA Matin mentioned filing of fictitious cases as unconstitutional and extreme examples of abuse of law. He equated fictitious cases with 'gayebi namaaz-e-janaza' and said, “If you drive out a person from his locality and if he cannot stay at home, this person cannot meet his family and relatives and cannot lead a normal life let alone (taking part in) the election. Filing cases before the election suggests this is abuse of law.”
If you drive out a person from his locality and if he cannot stay at home, this person cannot meet his family and relatives and cannot lead a normal life let alone (taking part in) the election
Stating that now there are laws but no rule of law, the former justice of the Supreme Court further said, “What can we do with the law if there is no rule of law?”
MA Matin also said, “We can see, nothing is working now. People have to rise up and protest against the abuse (of the law).”
Asif Nazrul, professor of law department at Dhaka University, presented the keynote at the webinar. He said a huge number of fictitious cases were filed in a planned way before the election at the previous tenure of this government, before 2018. There is no such incident before that. Once again filing of fictitious cases has reappeared before the upcoming parliamentary election.
He further said the relation between election and fictitious case has to be studied with due importance. Filing of fictitious cases must stop.
Mentioning that generally, police, their sources and leaders of the ruling party file fictitious case, Asif Nazrul said such fictitious cases are filed only against the opposition leaders and activists.
The professor of law thinks the prime reason of lodging fictitious cases, using some names and also a large number of unnamed people, is to force them to flee home and create a web of fear around the leaders and activists and organisers of opposition apparently by threatening them to make arrests or making arrests.
Cases can be filed under sections 4 and 5 of the explosives act of 1908. The highest term could be 20 years' imprisonment. At the same time this could be presented as a nonbailable offence. A speedy trial could be held for cases filed under this act. That is why the accused lives in extreme fear
Analysing the reason of filing majority of fictitious cases under explosives act, Asif Nazrul said cases can be filed under sections 4 and 5 of the explosives act of 1908. The highest term could be 20 years' imprisonment. At the same time this could be presented as a nonbailable offence. A speedy trial could be held for cases filed under this act. That is why the accused lives in extreme fear.
Ridwanul Hoque, senior law officer at Charles Darwin University in Australia, said police file fictitious cases after studying persons. Those who have been organising political programmes and rallies are being made accused so that they cannot do it in the future.
He said the next election could not be fair if situation does not improve. Such a situation will have far reaching consequences.
Zahed Ur Rahman, a teacher at Independent University, Bangladesh said, “The fictitious cases filed during this government are completely different in nature. The objective of this is to manipulate the election as they want.”
Zahed Ur Rahman also said fictitious cases are filed to harass, not to bring anyone under book.
Senior correspondent of bdnews24.com, Golam Mortuza, said, “We saw the incidents of mass filing of cases on charges of incidents that are imaginary for the first time during the ‘safe road movement’ of school students in August, 2018. Such a case was first reported against some students in Sylhet.”
Golam Mortuza further said no incidents of vandalism of vehicles happened that time but many suits were lodged against the students. Several arrests were made in Dhaka. This trend continued till the parliament election (in 2018), he added.