Rape at MC College: Principal, super negligent
Negligence of Sylhet's Murari Chand College's principal and hostel superintendent "crumbled" the right to life and personal liberty of the woman raped on campus, the High Court observed yesterday, directing that they be suspended.
On September 25 last year, a group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists -- both current and former students of MC College -- raped a woman after tying up her husband.
Later that night, the husband filed a case accusing six named and two to three unnamed individuals. Police later arrested eight accused.
Delivering its verdict on a suo moto (voluntary) rule yesterday, the HC observed that for the downright negligence and inaction of Principal Prof Mohammad Saleh Ahmed and Hostel Superintendent Ziban Krishna Acharja, and their indulgence, the rapists were able to commit the crime on campus.
The rapists even dared to stay in the official residence of the hostel superintendent, from where various illegal arms were seized, the court said.
For the principal and superintendent's negligence and failure to save the woman from being raped, the court asked the vice-chancellor and registrar of National University to initiate departmental proceedings against them by placing them under suspension or releasing them from their respective positions within seven days of receipt of a copy of the judgement and order.
The HC bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah came up with observation and directive while delivering the verdict.
"… The rape victim was entitled to have protection from the college authority -- a public institution in whatever manner it be -- in enjoying her most basic fundamental right to life and personal liberty, but it was crumbled brutally for which the inaction of the respective authority of the college was responsible," the judges said.
"If exemplary action is taken against the negligence, the women of our county will take our nation forward to a new height free from all sorts of oppression."
The right to life and personal liberty also includes rights to privacy as well, the bench said, adding that the country's constitution ensures certain rights which are fundamental in nature.
Following two separate reports published in The Daily Star on September 27 last year titled "Rape in MC College: 6 accused BCL men moved with impunity" and "Unpublished crimes led to horror like this", the HC bench on September 29 issued the suo moto rule.
In the rule, the court asked the authorities to show causes as to why they should not be directed to take appropriate legal steps against the principal and hostel superintendent of the college for their negligence and failure to save the woman from being raped.
The bench also formed a three-member committee, headed by Sylhet's District and Sessions Judge Md Bazlur Rahman, to probe into the incident of rape on the campus.
The committee submitted its 179-page probe report to the HC bench on October 20 last year, saying that there was negligence on the part of the hostel superintendent, three daytime guards and two night guards.
Principal Prof Mohammad Saleh Ahmed also could not avert responsibility, the committee said in its report, adding that some former and current students of the college had occupied seats in the hostel and Saifur Rahman, a former student, managed to occupy the residence of the hostel superintendent.
Thus, they dared to commit the heinous crime on the college campus, the probe report mentioned.
The HC in yesterday's verdict did not say anything about the guards of the college as actions have already been taken against them.
The HC verdict will not create any hindrance in the trial proceedings of the case filed for the rape, court sources said.
Lawyers Muhammad Misbah Uddin placed The Daily Star reports before the HC bench and Md Abdul Qaium and Foyez Uddin Ahmed placed arguments in support of the rule, while Deputy Attorney General Nawroz Md Rusel and Assistant Attorneys General MMG Sarwar, Ashique Rubaiat and Yeshita Parvin represented the state.