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Proceedings of 72 cases against star editor stayed

HC issues rule upon authorities concerned

The High Court yesterday stayed for three months the proceedings of 72 cases against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam.

The court also issued a rule upon the authorities concerned to explain why the initiation and continuation of the cases should not be declared illegal.

The home secretary, the inspector general of police and the complainants of the cases have been asked to respond to the rule in three weeks.

The HC bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq gave the order after hearing a writ petition from Anam, who challenged the legality of the initiation of proceedings of the cases.  

Barrister Rafique-ul Huq, Barrister Abbas Uddin and Barrister Margub Kabir appeared for the Star editor, while Assistant Attorney General Arobindu Kumar Roy represented the state.

Earlier, Anam got bail in 74 cases from another HC bench and lower courts after he surrendered before those. 

On April 3, the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Amir Hossain granted the Star editor anticipatory bail in 66 cases.

A total of 83 lawsuits were filed against Anam in 56 districts. And of those, 17 involve petitions that sought to sue Anam for sedition. A Sylhet court dismissed one of the cases on March 14.

The case spree against the Star editor began days after he made an introspective comment at a TV talk show on February 3 about a lapse in his editorial judgment in publishing some reports, based on information given by the Taskforce Interrogation Cell during the 2007-08 caretaker government rule, without being able to verify those independently.

The cases against Anam have drawn condemnation from local and foreign journalists and their unions as well as human rights bodies.