Trial proceedings of 27 cases involving terror and militant activities remain halted in different Chittagong courts, which have been waiting for years for government's approval as required by the law.
As per the Anti-terrorism Act-2009, under which the cases were filed, courts cannot frame charges against the accused without the final nod from the home ministry.
Originally, 29 such cases were stuck, but proceedings in two cases recently began after the home ministry gave the go-ahead.
Of the total cases, 19 were lodged with different police stations in the metropolitan area and 10 outside it.
Of the 19 cases gathering dust at various metropolitan courts, 12 are against Hizb ut-Tahrir men, four against Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) men and three against Jamaat-Shibir men, court sources said.
Charges include anti-state, subversive and militant activities, distribution of leaflets of banned militant outfits and possession of arms, ammunition and bomb-making materials.
The cases were filed between 2010 and 2015 with Panchlaish, Kotwali, Khulshi, Chawk Bazar, Karnaphuli, Double Mooring and Bakalia police stations.
Among them is the high-profile case filed in connection with the busting of a JMB den at Karnaphuli last year, said the sources.
On October 5, detectives arrested five members of the banned militant group from a flat at Khowajnagar and recovered handmade grenades, bomb-making materials and ammunition. The case was lodged the next day.
One arrestee, Javed, was killed in a grenade explosion during a police raid to capture more suspects.
Another detainee, Fardin, was killed in a so-called gunfight between police and suspected militants.
This case is sensitive and its trial should start as soon as possible, said prosecution lawyers.
“We wrote to the home ministry several times about the cases, as government's sanction is mandatory to start the trial,” said Fakhruddin Chowdhury, public prosecutor (PP) at the Chittagong Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court.
Because of the delay, some accused are getting bail from the High Court, he added.
AKM Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, PP at the Chittagong District Sessions Judge's Court, said they sent the list of the 10 cases filed in the district to the home ministry.
“We are still waiting for the approval,” he said on Wednesday.
“During hearing, we need to produce the evidence before the court to prove the case,” said Chittagong District Bar Association General Secretary SM Zahed Biru.
But if it takes this long to start the trial, certain evidence may be destroyed or even lost and the accused will be benefitted from this, he added.
Due to such delay, some witnesses lose interest in appearing before the court to give deposition, he said. “The home ministry has a law section to look into the matter. If they take an initiative, the problem would be solved.”
On Wednesday, one official at the law section said they were yet to receive the files of the cases.
“We will approve those as soon as we get them,” he said, asking not to be named.
Yesterday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said they recently approved several cases.
“The files involving some other cases were sent back to the courts because there were some flaws in those,” he told The Daily Star by phone.
Contacted last night, a source in the PP office of the Chittagong Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court said they received approval of four cases and that the trial proceedings of two cases already began.