Verdicts are given on the basis of the testimony of the witnesses and evidence placed before the court. However, a judge cannot instruct the law enforcement agencies to not accept any rape case after 72 hours of the incident. A criminal offence can never be obsolete. It is not advisable for a person in the chair of a judge to comment on when to go to a hotel or when to not either. Such questions and remarks are quite insulting for the victims and create distrust among the people regarding the judicial system, which is not desirable.
The aforementioned remarks and directives of the judge have drawn strong reactions from different sections in the society. The human rights and women organisations have protested against it. Law minister Anisul Huq himself has termed these remarks from the judge against the law and constitution of the country. He also issued a letter to chief justice Syed Mahbub Hossain regarding this issue. And within less than 24 hours, the chief justice withdrew that judge from her duty. We appreciate this move by the chief justice and the law minister. It has established that it is not impossible to correct any wrong decision by a judge.
In this regard, it should be mentioned that a writ has been filed in recent times to repeal two sections of the Evidence Act. The writ has been filed by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) and Naripakkha.
According to section 155 (4) of the Evidence Act, when a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character. According to section 146 (3) of that law, when a witness is cross-examined, he may, in addition to the questions hereinbefore referred to, be asked any questions which tend to shake his credit, by injuring his character, although the answer to such questions might tend directly or indirectly to criminate him or might expose or tend directly or indirectly to expose him to a penalty or forfeiture. The remarks of Mst Kamrunnahar, judge of Women and Child Repression Prevention Tribunal-7, has reminded us of these two section of our constitution.
In this context, we would expect that the High Court, considering the importance of the matter, will take action for speedy trial. In other cases, the High Court may intervene if there is a discrepancy in the lower court. Recently, the lower court had to seek an unconditional apology from the High Court for granting remand to actress Pori Moni repeatedly.
The constitution of Bangladesh does not allow any kind of discrimination on the basis of gender. Therefore, the people who have adequate knowledge about women and children repression related crimes should be appointed as the judges of the Women and Child Repression Prevention Tribunal. There is no guarantee that a woman judge will understand the Woman and Children Repression Prevention Act better.