A man has been cleared of the charges he had to fight for 17 long years in yet another instance of identity mix-up.
In a packed courtroom in Natore yesterday, Additional District and Sessions Judge Mohammad Saifur Rahman Siddiki ordered the release of the man, Bablu Sheikh.
He termed the incident a clear case of mistaken identity like that of “Jaha Alam” and “Joj Mia”.
The judge ordered the authorities concerned to take quick steps and arrest the real accused in the case -- Sree Babu.
He also observed Bablu was a victim of negligence by the investigation officers, the lower court judge and the lawyers during his 17-year long ordeal.
Bablu, a 55-year-old day labourer from Ancholkot village in the district’s Singra upazila, had been fighting a legal battle ever since he was arrested on November 7, 2002, in a case filed against six people, including Sree Babu, for their involvement in a clash at Gangoli village.
Police, however, arrested Bablu instead of Sree Babu.
According to the case filed on April 18, 2001, Bablu was behind bars for six days before getting bail.
On June 23, 2016, he was again produced as Sree Babu in a lower court that convicted him and the five other accused. They were awarded two years’ imprisonment and fined Tk 5,000 each.
Bablu had to serve around two months in jail as Sree Babu before getting bail on August 16, 2016, after an appeal against the verdict.
“I have lost 17 years of my life. The cost of fighting the case was much too high for me to bear as I am a day labourer. I wasn’t able to give any attention to my family,” said Bablu after his release was ordered.
“I am very happy that I am finally relieved of the sufferings. I don’t want anyone to suffer like I had to.”
While ordering the release of Bablu Sheikh yesterday, Judge Saifur Rahman Siddiki made a four-point observation. The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the observations.
The two investigation officers -- Mominul Islam and Helena Parvin -- submitted their reports without investigating properly, he observed.
He also asked the authorities concerned to take legal action against the two IOs.
The lower court judge failed to follow the code of criminal procedure and handed the judgement all of a sudden, Judge Siddiki said.
“By doing so, it has made an error in judgement.”
He added that the lawyer concerned failed to do his duty as he was supposed to notice that the wrong man was serving jail term.