Probe against photographer Shahidul Alam stayed
12:00 AM, March 15, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:54 AM, March 15, 2019

Probe against Shahidul stayed

The High Court yesterday stayed for three months the investigation of the case filed against renowned photographer Shahidul Alam.

It also issued a rule asking the government to explain why the continuation of probing the case filed under section 57 of the ICT Act should not be declared illegal and contradictory to the Digital Security Act-2018 and the constitution.

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The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil came up with the order and rule after hearing a writ petition filed by Shahidul challenging the legality of filing of the case and its proceedings.

During yesterday's hearing, petitioner's lawyer AF Hasan Ariff told the court that the case was filed against Shahidul under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act illegally as the section had been abolished after formulation of the Digital Security Act.

He also prayed to the court to stay the case investigation.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the writ petition, saying that the probe could not be stayed as the case was a criminal one.

Even if the relevant law is repealed, the investigation into the criminal case will go on, he added.

Contacted, Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that the government would move an appeal before the Supreme Court's Appellate Division against the HC order that stayed the investigation.

On March 3, Shahidul filed a writ petition challenging the legality of the case, in which he was imprisoned for 107 days.

In the petition, he sought stay on the proceedings, saying that the case was filed against him “in violation of his fundamental rights and by abusing the process”.

During a hearing on the petition on March 13, the same HC bench asked the authorities to immediately produce the case records before it and fixed yesterday for further hearing on the petition.

The lower court yesterday sent the case records to the HC as per its March 13 directive.

On August 5 last year, Shahidul, also the founder of Drik Gallery and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, was picked up from his Dhanmondi home during a widespread demonstration for safe roads.

Police lodged the case against the 63-year-old under the controversial section 57 of the ICT Act and produced him before a Dhaka court the following day.

On November 15 last year, HC granted bail to Shahidul, while he was released from jail on November 20.

Barrister Sara Hossain, advocate Asaduzzaman and barrister Jyotirmoy Barua also appeared for Shahidul, while Deputy Attorney General Mokhlesur Rahman assisted the attorney general.  

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