Is it another Joj Mia case?
The High Court yesterday asked the Anti-Corruption Commission whether it had produced another “Joj Mia drama” while commenting on the imprisonment of an innocent person.
“The person who should have been accused in this case, has been made a witness by you… If the ACC works independently the development of the country will be steady, otherwise it won't be long before the country turns into Pakistan. We will have to start begging,” the HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader observed while hearing the ACC's explanations of why a wrong person was in jail for three years.
Jute mill worker Jaha Alam, who had been languishing in jail since February 2016, was released early today. He was arrested in connection with cases filed by the ACC for misappropriation of Sonali Bank money. The HC exonerated him from the charges yesterday.
At the gate of Kashimpur Central Jail-2 in Gazipur, Jaha Alam told reporters that he wanted the ACC officials responsible for his imprisonment be punished.
Senior Jail Superintendent Subrata Kumar Bala said he was released around 12:55am.
At yesterday's hearing, the court said, “We do not support keeping an innocent person behind bars even for a minute.”
On January 28, the HC bench in a sue moto move summoned the director general of ACC and three other officials, including representatives of home and law ministries, to explain why Jaha Alam, instead of the actual accused, was in jail for the last three years.
The HC initiative came after the daily Prothom Alo published a report on Jaha Alam's plight.
In 2012, the ACC filed 33 cases against a number of individuals for misappropriation of about Tk 18.5 crore from the Sonali Bank. In 26 of the cases, Abu Salek, a businessman, was accused, ACC officials said.
Although Salek is from Singia village of Balia Union in Thakurgaon, in one of his bank accounts he mentioned the name of a village in Tangail's Nagarpur. Jaha Alam is also from a village in Nagarpur.
During investigation of the cases, the commission asked the bank officials to identify and trace Salek.
The officials informed the ACC that the address provided by Salek in his bank documents was in Tangail's Nagarpur.
The commission then summoned “Salek” to its office where the bank officials, including the account's introducers, were present.
However, the man who appeared before the ACC claimed that the authorities concerned were mistaken and his name was Jaha Alam, not Abu Salek.
Later, the ACC pressed charges before a court identifying him as Abu Salek alias Jaha Alam. He was arrested on February 6, 2016 in Narsingdi. He had been languishing in jail until today.
During yesterday's hearing at the HC, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, “Based on information from the Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank, we filed the FIR.”
The court then made the reference to the infamous Joj Mia incident in which a man named Joj Mia was falsely implicated in a case filed in connection with the grenade attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004.
“We cautioned you [ACC] earlier about graft cases relating to banks… We've seen that you serve notice to individuals even before beginning an enquiry. But it is found out later that there is no allegation against them whatsoever. Why do you serve the notice then? Why does a person who is not guilty have to be in jail for over two years? The ACC needs to be transparent,” the court said.
ACC Director General Mostafizur Rahman and Deputy Director Abdullah Al Jahid were present at the hearing.