Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore was subjected to inhumane physical and mental torture in custody after Rab members picked him up from his Lalmatia house on May 5 last year, Kishore's lawyer told a Dhaka court yesterday.
His lawyer, Jyotirmoy Barua, also appealed to the court to accept a complaint against the Rab members under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013.
The lawyer made the appeal after the court rejected a remand petition against Kishore and writer Mushtaq Ahmed earlier in the day in connection with a case filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
The court did not say anything about Mushtaq, who died in custody on Thursday.
Kishore's lawyer told the court that his client sustained injuries to his ears, left leg and he cannot walk properly due to the torture, which is a criminal offence.
"The Rab members responsible for torturing Kishore inhumanely in custody should be brought to trial and punished," Jyotirmoy told the court.
When the court asked the lawyer why they are filing the appeal after so long, Jyotirmoy said they did not know about the torture as they could not meet his client in person due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Jashim asked the lawyer to file the petition with a court that can accept the petition as he has no jurisdiction to accept it.
Barrister Jyotirmoy then submitted the application before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Bakar Siddique.
The judge asked him to submit it to his superior court -- the Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court in Dhaka -- as he has no jurisdiction to forward such petition to the senior court.
The appeal could not be filed as the Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court in Dhaka did not sit yesterday, said Jyotirmoy.
Later in the day, the lawyer said a hearing for Kishore's bail petition is scheduled to be held at the High Court today.
"We will decide the next step about filing of a case for custodial torture after assessing the situation," he told The Daily Star.
Earlier, Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Jashim rejected the petition submitted to take Kishore into remand after Jyotirmoy submitted a petition seeking cancellation of the remand prayer around 1:15pm.
Although it is mandatory according to law to produce an accused before the court during a remand hearing, the prosecution did not produce Kishore, who is now in Kashimpur High Security Jail.
After filing a charge sheet in the case, the law enforcers have no jurisdiction to submit a remand prayer against Kishore in such a situation, Jyotirmoy said in the application.
"It is an audacity to seek remand after filing the charge sheet in the same case and the police personnel concerned should be punished for this," the lawyer told the court.
The prosecution could not provide any satisfactory answer when the court asked why they did not produce the accused.
Last Tuesday, Md Afchhar Ahmed, sub-inspector of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit, submitted the three-day remand prayer for interrogating Kishore and Mushtaq in connection with the case.
According to the remand appeal, Ahmed Kabir Kishore and Mushtaq Ahmed circulated "fake information against the state as well as the government through their Facebook accounts to deteriorate law and order".
Besides, they "tarnished the reputation of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, drawing his cartoons", the appeal said.
The accused circulated propaganda about the pandemic through the "I am Bangladeshi" page in collusion with each other to create confusion among the people to deteriorate law and order, the appeal said.
Through the "I am Bangladeshi" page, the accused circulated defamatory propaganda on social media about Bangladesh Army, chiefs of various security forces as well as the law enforcement agencies to tarnish their image, it added.
So, they need to be placed on remand to gather information about the incident, the appeal said.
On June 16 last year, another court rejected both remand and bail petitions of four accused, including Mushtaq and Kishore, finding no grounds to place them on remand in the case.
A total of 11 people, including Kishore, Mushtaq and Rashtrochinta activist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan, were prosecuted under the DSA by Rab-3's Assistant Director Abu Bakar Siddique on May 6 last year.
On January 11, Sub-inspector Md Mohsin Sardar of Ramna Police Station, also the investigation officer of the case, pressed charges against Kishore, Mushtaq and Didarul, dropping the names of the eight others.
Swedish-Bangladeshi journalist Tasneem Khalil, who runs Netra News, Hungary-based entrepreneur Zulkarnain Saer Khan, and US-based journalist Shahed Alam, were among others named in the case.
Tasneem and Zulkarnain were featured in a recent Al Jazeera report, titled "All the Prime Minister's Men". The report caused a stir in the country and drew major backlash from the government.
On February 10, the Dhaka Cyber Tribunal ordered the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit to further investigate charges against all 11 accused.
Didarul was granted bail in September last year, Mushtaq died in custody last Thursday and Kishore has been behind bars for nine months.
Kishore and Mushtaq's bail petitions were rejected six times, according to their lawyers.