A Dhaka court yesterday ordered police to seek permission from the government for investigating a sedition charge brought by a lawyer against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam.
Besides, two more defamation suits, demanding Tk 50 crore and Tk 10 crore from Mahfuz Anam, were filed by local leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) in Cox's Bazar and Gopalganj yesterday.
With two other libel suits filed in Laxmipur and Khulna on Tuesday, the Star editor now faces four such cases for publishing without independent verification reports on Sheikh Hasina based on information provided by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) following the 1/11 political changeover in 2007.
Yesterday, Assistant Public Prosecutor Mostafizur Rahman Dulal of Dhaka Special Judge's Court-9 placed an application before Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Rani Chakrobarty for filing a sedition case against Mahfuz Anam.
A few hours into recording the complaint, the court ordered the officer-in-charge (OC) of Kotwali Police Station to assign an inspector-level officer to seek permission from the government for probing the allegation before taking necessary legal steps.
The OC has been directed to submit the report to the court by March 28.
Government's prior permission was required for taking the charges into cognisance, the judge said.
During a talk show aired live on a private TV channel on February 3, Mahfuz Anam made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing a few reports that the newspaper could not independently verify during the last caretaker government's tenure.
MORE LIBEL SUITS
Ishtiaq Ahmed Joy, president of Cox's Bazar district BCL, filed a Tk 50-crore defamation case against Mahfuz Anam, alleging the "DGFI-fed reports" had tarnished the image of Sheikh Hasina.
After recording his statement, Senior Judicial Magistrate Arun Kanti Pal ordered the OC of Cox's Bazar Sadar Model Police Station to investigate the matter and submit the report "as soon as possible".
In Gopalganj, Shariful Islam Munnah, organising secretary of the BCL's Gopalganj district chapter, lodged a Tk 10-crore defamation suit against the Star editor.
Accepting the case, Judicial Magistrate Nusrat Jabin Nimmi ordered the OC of Gopalganj Sadar Police Station to investigate the allegation and submit the report on March 30.