Justice Minister Anisul Haque said he would send a letter to the Chief Justice asking to take action against the judge who handed down the verdict in the case involving the rape of two students at the Raintree Hotel in Banani.
The Minister made the statement while addressing the press at the premises of the Supreme Court on Saturday.
The minister declined to comment on the verdict, but said the judge’s observation during the verdict was illegal and unconstitutional.
“I will write a letter to the Chief Justice [on Sunday] to take action against the judge on the matter,” he said.
Judge Begum Mosammat Kamrun Nahar of Dhaka’s Seventh Court for the Prevention of Punishment of Women and Children on Thursday acquitted the five defendants charged with the alleged rape of two private university students at an upscale hotel in the capital’s Banani district in 2017.
Shafat Ahmed, his friend Shadman Sakif, Nayeem Ashraf alias Halim, Shafat Billal’s driver and bodyguard Rahmat Ali were acquitted as the charges against them had not been proven, the court heard.
The judge asked the police to refrain from receiving a case if a rape victim shows up at the police station more than 72 hours after the incident.
“Semen stains cannot be found after 72 hours,” the judge had said.
Judge Kamrun Nahar made the observation when delivering the verdict, referring to the plaintiff who went to the police station 38 days after the incident.
The defendant had a consensual physical relationship with the women, the court observed, adding that the investigator in charge of the case had filed charges against the five defendants despite the lack of evidence.
The plaintiff filed charges against Shafat and four others after being instigated by Faria Mahbub Piyasha, Shafat’s ex-wife, the judge said.
She said, “You say this case is important, but I don’t think so. Ours [judiciary], each case is important. In this case, nothing was found in the medical report and the doctors could not present any evidence [in favor of rape].”
The court said the victims in the case were not credible in their accusations. The judge also made some observations regarding the lifestyle and physique of the two women.
Hours after a Dhaka court’s verdict acquitting five people accused of rape, rights activists and people of different professions took to the streets at midnight on Thursday and held a torchlight procession from Shahbagh to the Jatiya Sangsad.
Protesters also took to the streets on Friday and Saturday.
Sara Hossain, executive director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), told the Dhaka Tribune that human rights activists can also send letters to the Chief Justice. “This kind of step could have a positive impact on future cases and judges will reach rational verdicts.”
The Supreme Court has the right to sue a judge, she added.
The government will repeal a provision of the law on rape
Meanwhile, the government has decided to drop the provision of the Evidence Act 1872 which allows the identity of the victim in a rape case to be questioned.
The law amendment bill is expected to be tabled in parliament during the January session, Justice Minister Anisul Huq told BBC Bangla.
“In addition to removing this provision, we have taken the initiative to modify a few other provisions,” the minister said.
He added that the amendments will take time and therefore cannot be tabled in parliament this month.
Section 155(4) of the Evidence Act reads: “Where a man is prosecuted for rape or attempted rape, it may be shown that the prosecutor was generally immoral.”
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