Waiting for release for 13 years

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The government is in a dilemma as to which country's law will be followed in carrying out the sentence of Bangladeshi youth Badal Faraji, who was awarded life imprisonment in a murder case while traveling to India. The young man has not been released though he was brought to the country under prisoner exchange treaty two years ago. He is now lodged in Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj.

The 31-year-old Badal Faraji went on a trip to India when he was 18 years of age. The murder in which he was convicted took place before he went there. He has been mentioned as innocent in the documents of several meetings of the home ministry of Bangladesh.

The problem is that the citizens, brought under the prisoner exchange treaty, has to serve his sentence after the extradition. According to the prisons department, Badal was sentenced to 14 years in prison under India's penal code. According to the law of Bangladesh, the term of life imprisonment is 30 years. It is not clear as to which country's law will be followed in this case.

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Badal Faraji served a total of 10 years and seven months in India, including imprisonment, waiver and fines. On the other hand, he has served two years seven months and 12 days in Bangladesh that include the waiver. He has so far served over 13 years and two months in the jails of the two countries.

If as per Indian law the lifetime means 14 years of imprisonment, his release is not far-off. Before that, it is necessary to decide which country’s law will be followed

If as per Indian law the lifetime means 14 years of imprisonment, his release is not far-off. Before that, it is necessary to decide which country’s law will be followed.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that they have sought the opinion of the law ministry. “Let’s see what the law ministry says. Only then will I be able to say when he will be released.”

Law minister Anisul Haque, however, told Prothom Alo that he is yet to receive the proposal. “Even though the matter is related to the court, if they (home ministry) seeks our opinion, we will give a rational opinion.”

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Badal went to India on 13 July 2008. About two months before that (6 May 2013), an old woman was killed in Delhi's Amar colony. According to Indian newspapers, Badal Faraji was arrested as Badal Singh after crossing the Benapole border.

On 7 August 2015, Badal Faraji was sentenced to life imprisonment by Delhi Saket Court. Badal appealed against the verdict to Delhi High Court. The High Court upheld the verdict of the lower court. Since then he was serving in Delhi's Tihar Jail. There he completed his secondary, higher secondary and undergraduate education.

At one stage, Badal spoke to Rahul Kapoor, a human rights activist who went to counsel the prisoners. He opened a signature collection programme 'Justice for Badal'. Rahul contacted the Bangladesh High Commission in India. After the government's efforts, India sent him back to Bangladesh in July 2016.

Badal lived in Bagerhat. His mother Shefali Begum told Prothom Alo, “We met the home minister. He also said my son is innocent. He will talk to the law ministry. That was six months ago. I don't know anything else.”

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Since Badal has been brought to the country, the government released a number of prisoners including those who served at jail for 20 years. But no decision has been made about Badal as yet.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Supreme Court lawyer Shahdin Malik said that the government can grant special pardon to Badal Faraji if it finds him innocent.

“The government can also write a letter to the government of India. But no action is being taken, rather negligence is being seen,” he added.

* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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