The High Court set tomorrow to pass order on cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore's bail petition in connection with a case under the Digital Security Act.
The court also directed the petitioner's lawyer, Jyotirmoy Barua, to inform it through an affidavit about the death of Mushtaq Ahmed, another accused in the case. Mushtaq died in custody last Thursday.
The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman set the date yesterday and gave the directive after Jyotirmoy Barua moved the petition virtually.
Eleven 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.
Kishore and Mushtaq were arrested on May 5 last year and Didarul was arrested the following day.
On January 11, police pressed charges against Kishore, Mushtaq and Didarul, dropping the names of the eight others.
But, Dhaka Cyber Tribunal on February 10 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, with the last occasion being on January 6, according to their lawyers.
In the hearing, Jyotirmoy Barua said he had filed it seeking bail for both Kishore and Mushtaq but the latter died on Thursday while in custody.
Although the first information report (FIR) mentioned that they have deteriorated law and order situation and created confusion, it did not mention how they have done so, the lawyer said.
Talking about his client, the lawyer said Kishore is a cartoonist and cartoonists, anywhere in the world, criticise different activities of government through cartoons and this is nothing new.
Kishore is also a human rights defender who works for the rights of marginalised people, especially transgender people, said Jyotirmoy, adding that Kishore even received an international award for cartoon while he was in jail.
Citing the case document, the lawyer said the complainant had only gotten information after the cartoonist was arrested and his mobile phone and computer were seized.
When the lawyer talked about weak points of the case, the court said this is a new law and there is a shortage of trained people and investigators.
Jyotirmoy replied that in case there was any fault in the case, the accused, not the police, would get the benefit.
The lawyer said as per the law, the investigating officer was supposed to submit charge sheet within 60 days of filing of the case. In default, 15 days can be given and the cyber tribunal can allow 30 more days, meaning the investigation must be completed within 105 days of filing the case, he said.
But the charge sheet was submitted on January 11 and instead of accepting it, the cyber tribunal ordered further investigation, he said.
Jyotirmoy said Mushtaq and Kishore were produced before the tribunal on February 23 when an investigation report was scheduled to be submitted.
On that day, Kishore told Jyotirmoy that he was tortured in custody and that his right ear was nearly impaired and a scar had developed on his left leg, the lawyer said.
Jyotirmoy said he informed the Metropolitan Session Judge's Court verbally but Kishore was not granted bail. Jyotirmoy said there are many faults in the case and they would mention those during the trial stage but his client has a social standing and is now ailing, so he should be granted bail.
He said as per the law, an accused must be produced during a remand hearing but Kishore was not produced before the court during his remand hearing on Sunday.
The HC bench said this is a separate issue and set tomorrow for giving order.
POLICE SEEK PERMISSION TO QUIZ DIDARUL, MINHAJ
Police have submitted a petition seeking permission to interrogate two accused who are now out on bail in the same case.
The accused are Didarul and Minhaj Mannan Emon, managing director of BLE securities and shareholder-director of Dhaka Stock Exchange.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Bakar Siddique yesterday set March 10 for hearing on the petition in presence of the accused.
On February 25, newly-appointed investigation officer Md Afchhar Ahmed, sub-inspector of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of police, submitted the petition.