According to the Center for Governance Studies, the police are still investigating only three-fourth of the 1,000 or so cases. Of these, 725 have been going on before 2022. In short, the law enforcement agencies have not followed the legal provisions to complete the investigation of the cases. The law states that an investigation report must be submitted within 60 days. The investigating officer can apply to the authorities for an extension of 15 days if required. The officer will not have any access to the investigation after 75 days. It then falls under the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
Therefore, the investigation of the cases filed under the Digital Security Act, which could not be completed within the specified time, should be completed fast. It is also not acceptable to detain an accused after a certain period. But in reality, they have to languish in jail until the case is settled. The accused have to remain in custody and are being punished before trial even if the investigation report is not submitted within the stipulated 75 days.
Most of the accused are politicians and journalists. At least 287 politicians and 280 journalists have been indicted in various cases under the Digital Security Act. And the plaintiffs in most of these cases are leaders and activists of the ruling party. Most of these cases were filed simply to harass political opponents and journalists.
When the law was introduced in 2018, there was strong opposition from journalists lest this law would threaten the freedom of expression and media. That's what actually happened.
Many local and foreign organisations have identified this law as a repressive one. As a result, the image of the country has also been tarnished. The government must realise that without freedom of expression and media, the country's democracy will be at bay. This law is a threat to democracy.
We demand the immediate repeal of the Digital Security Act, speedy disposal of the pending 98 per cent cases filed under the act and the unconditional release of those who are in jail under the act.