Journo sued under Section 57, sent to jail
Another journalist has been arrested under controversial Section-57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act.
And this time the case was filed against him allegedly for taking a “screenshot” of a Facebook post involving the president and the prime minister and for showing it to the plaintiff and some other local people.
While being taken to court yesterday, arrestee Anisur Rahman, Roumari upazila correspondent of Daily Sangbad, said he had once been a Chhatra League activist, and as a journalist now, he was fully aware of the sensitivity of the post.
“I have never displayed the nasty post to anyone.”
The 33-year-old, from Kattimari of Roumari upazila, was arrested on Tuesday night. The Kurigram Chief Judicial Magistrate Court sent him to jail after the police produced him before it yesterday.
Journalists have been demanding the repeal of Section-57 of the ICT Act for its widespread misuse to muzzle freedom of speech and the press. They say the section is so vaguely worded that it allows misuse of it to silence journalists and social media users.
Amid widespread criticism, Law Minister Anisul Huq on several occasions said the section would be repealed. However, cases under the section have been piling up, and around two dozen journalists have already been sued under the act since March.
Against the backdrop, Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque in August instructed all police stations to consult the legal wing of the police headquarters before registering any case under Section- 57.
Regarding the latest case against Anisur, Sirajul Islam, senior assistant superintendent of police (Roumari circle), said Shah Kamal Sarkar, president of ward no-5 of Jadurchar union Juba League, had filed a general dairy (GD) on September 8 against two persons, including Anisur, allegedly for displaying a fake and unexpected photo of the president and the prime minister on their mobile phones.
The GD copy was sent to the police headquarters for permission to register it as a regular case, he said adding, “We got the permission yesterday [October 31] and so registered it [GD] as a regular case under Section-57(2) [of ICT Act].”
Anisur was arrested that night. The police have been searching for another accused, Sumon Mia, 24, the police official said.
According to complainant Shah Kamal, Anisur took a screenshot of local youth Sumon's Facebook post displaying the unexpected photo and showed it to him and some other men at Kattimari Bazar on September 8.
“I requested him [Anisur] to file a general diary with Roumari Police Station [in this regard]. Since he did not agree, I filed a diary,” Kamal said.
And he made Anisur one of the accused.
The journalist said, “Kamal implicated me in the case, as I had done some news reports that went against some local Awami League leaders including Kamal.”
Ahsan Habib Nilu, Anisur's lawyer, said that since his client was produced in court later in the day he could not place any bail petition. “We shall place a bail prayer tomorrow [Thursday].”
Under the ICT Act, police submit either a charge sheet or a final report upon investigating crimes to the Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka, the lone tribunal to deal with such cases.
According to a source at the tribunal, the court received 763 reports until July 30 this year from police since the amendment of the law in 2013 with provisions for harsher punishments. Nearly 90 percent of the cases were filed under Section-57, and a majority of them by ruling party men.
The actual number of cases is much higher as police file reports with the court only after completing their investigations into the accusations.
Of the 763 cases, 205 have so far been disposed of -- 84 after trial and the rest either after submission of final reports or after the withdrawal of the complaints.
In the first seven months of this year alone, the tribunal received 342 reports in as many number of cases. Of them, 300 were filed under Section 57.