The national committee for reviewing and recommending withdrawal of “politically motivated” lawsuits has taken up 30 murder cases, mostly against Awami League men, for review at its next meeting without following due procedures.
The murder cases, with nearly 170 other lawsuits, have been selected for the committee's consideration, mostly without recommendations from district committees headed by deputy commissioners, said sources in the inter-ministerial review body.
According to the rules, it is mandatory that district committees first select the “politically motivated” cases and then forward them to the home ministry for placing them before the national committee.
But many of the cases have been selected for the committee's review even without the knowledge of district committees, said district officials.
The national committee headed by State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam has been reviewing “politically motivated” cases since 2009.
The committee's next meeting, which may also be its last, is scheduled for August 20. At its previous 30 meetings, the committee had recommended withdrawing as many as 7,177 cases against a total of 11,200 cases referred to it.
The recommendations for wholesale withdrawal of the cases evoked strong criticism from different quarters.
Officials said the government made the move at the end of its tenure apparently for getting off the hook criminals loyal to ruling party leaders.
Sources said when the district committees expressed their inability to make recommendations for reviewing several murder cases against notorious criminals, they were asked to forward the cases without recommendations.
One such instance is the forwarding of the murder cases against Khokon Hossain Khan, a notorious criminal in Pabna, to the national committee.
Khokon, an accused in three murder cases with Santhia and Ataikula police stations in Pabna, has been shown as a member of Santhia thana AL unit. But in reality, Khokon is not a member of the ruling AL.
The murder cases against him have been selected for the national committee's review. But the Pabna district committee didn't even know that Khokon's case documents had been sent to the review body.
Al Mahmud Delwar, convener of Santhia thana AL unit, yesterday told The Daily Star that Khokon, son of Yousuf Khan in Santhia, had never been a member of the Awami League.
Mustafizur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Pabna, said the district committee had not sent the documents of any murder case to the national committee for review.
Khokon along with several others was indicted in the charge sheets of the three murder cases in 2003 and 2004. He is the prime accused in the cases.
Khokon was shown absconding in all three cases, said a court source in Pabna.
As per provisions, no case against any absconding accused can be put on the agenda for the national committee's review.
The committee was formed in early 2009 to review and recommend withdrawal of “politically motivated” cases filed during the tenure of the BNP-led government and the last caretaker government.
Surprisingly, it will also review at its next meeting a murder case filed during the tenure of the present government.
Shawkat Ali, who is from Lalmonirhat, is the accused in the murder case filed with Aditmari Police Station in Lalmonirhat on October 4, 2009.
But it could not be confirmed whether Shawkat had any affiliation with the ruling party.
Two more murder cases -- one against Chhatra League member Babu Hossain and the other against AL activist Fazlu alias Dipjol in Pabna -- have also been selected for the committee's review without the knowledge of the district committee concerned.
The state minister for law told The Daily Star that no case should be selected for the committee's review without the district committees' recommendations.
When his attention was drawn to such instances, the chief of the national body said he would not say anything without seeing the documents.