A total of 26,695 rape cases have been filed across the country in the past five years, said a short report submitted by the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to the High Court yesterday.
Of the cases, 4,331 were filed in 2016, 4,683 in 2017, 4,695 in 2018, 6,766 in 2019 and 6,220 were lodged till October 2020, according to the report, signed by Md Rezaul Karim, additional deputy IGP
Deputy Attorney General Nawroz MR Chowdhury placed the report, on behalf of the IGP office, before the HC during a hearing on a writ petition in line with its October 21, 2020, order.
Nawroz also sought two months' time for submitting the complete report on this issue.
The bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah fixed May 23 for further hearing on the issue.
Also yesterday, Md Ali Akbar, supreme court registrar general, placed another report to the HC bench through Nawroz saying that a three-member monitoring cell, headed by Ali, has been formed to monitor whether the trials of the cases filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000, are completed in 180 days.
The monitoring cell has been constituted in line with a verdict delivered by the HC on December 5, 2016. The HC directive came in the full text of the verdict, delivered by the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice JBM Hassan released on May 12, 2017.
According to section 20 of the Act, the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal must finish the trial of the cases filed under this law within 180 days of framing charges.
Section 31(ka) of the law states if the trial of a case is not finished on time, the tribunal judge, public prosecutor and police officer concerned have to submit separate reports to the SC and the government, mentioning causes for the delay, and then the authorities concerned should take necessary steps.
During yesterday's hearing, the HC bench, led by Justice Mozibur Rahman Miah, questioned some orders delivered by another HC bench issuing a condition that the accused in a rape case will be granted bail if they marry their victims in jail, if there was a previous relationship between them.
Mozibur Rahman's bench, in this regard, said rape is not a compoundable offence.
The writ petitioner's lawyers Aneek R Haque and Yeadia Zaman told the HC that the rape is a non-compoundable criminal offence and it cannot be settled through arbitration or out of court.
A DAG, on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star that another HC bench has granted ad-interim bail to seven to eight accused, including a convict of separate rape cases, after they agreed to marry their victims in jail gates.
Following a petition filed by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a leading rights organisation, the HC bench, led by Justice Mozibur Rahman Miah, on October 21 last year directed law enforcers to take necessary steps to stop the use of arbitration in adjudicating rape incidents in the country.
It also sought separate compliance reports from the IGP and SC registrar general on this issue.