Executive magistrates cannot hold trial of children: HC
The High Court, in a full judgement, has observed that the mobile court law has not empowered executive magistrates to conduct trial of children.
"We have not found anything in the Mobile Court Act, 2009 that empowers the executive magistrates to conduct trial of a child accused. Rather, the Children Act, 2013 being the subsequent special law, the provisions of the same will override in case of any conflict of it with the Mobile Court Act, 2009," the HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmud Hasan Talukder said.
The full text of the verdict was released last night after judges of the HC bench signed it.
Earlier on March 11 this year, the bench scrapped the convictions and jail sentences handed down by executive magistrate-run-mobile courts to juveniles across the country.
Delivering verdict on a suo moto (voluntary) rule, the court observed that the process under which executive magistrates convicted and sentenced 121 children through mobile courts is inhuman and in violation of human rights.
The court also declared actions of executive magistrate-run mobile courts convicting children and sentencing them to imprisonment for different tenures on criminal charges "illegal and unconstitutional".
In the full text of verdict, the HC bench said when the Children Act, 2013 has provided special procedure for dealing with and trial of children under the age of 18, Mobile Court Act cannot confer jurisdiction on the executive magistrates even to deal with said children, not to speak of conducting the trial.
"Therefore, the children concerned in the cases have been deprived of their fundamental rights to be treated in accordance with law and only in accordance with law as guaranteed by Article 31 of the constitution," the HC judges said.
It directed authorities concerned of the government to immediately release children convicted and sentenced by mobile courts, if there are any in custody.
"The children in question shall not bear any consequences, legal or factual, of such conviction and sentence in their future life. There shall not be any criminal records against the said children in so far as the said cases are concerned," the HC bench observed.
Following a news report published in Bangla daily Prothom Alo, the HC bench on October 31 last year issued the rule asking authorities to explain why the conviction of children by mobile courts should not be declared illegal.
According to the newspaper report, mobile courts illegally jailed 121 children for six months to one year and sent them to juvenile correction centres in Tongi and Jashore.