The Narayanganj court, which issued a warrant for the arrest of The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam in a libel case on Tuesday, revised its order yesterday and issued a summons on him.
According to the fresh order, the Star editor will have to appear before the court on March 28, officials concerned told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.
The court of Senior Judicial Magistrate Saiduzzaman Sharif passed the order in the defamation suit filed by Muhammad Mohsin Mia, joint secretary of Narayanganj district lawyers' association.
Mohsin, who introduced himself as an Awami League activist, brought the libel charge against Mahfuz Anam for “reports against Sheikh Hasina” published during the 2007-2008 tenure of the last caretaker government.
Meanwhile, 13 more cases were filed against Mahfuz Anam in nine districts yesterday.
So far 69 lawsuits have been lodged against the Star editor in 47 out of 64 districts since February 9.
Of the cases, 15 involve pleas for bringing sedition charges against him, while the rest are defamation suits.
The case spree began days after the Star editor at a talk show on February 3 made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing a few reports, based on information given by the Task Force Interrogation Cell during the 2007-08 tenure of the last caretaker government, without being able to verify those independently.
On Tuesday, the Narayanganj court took into cognisance the defamation allegation under 500/501/502 provision of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The Jatiya Sangsad, however, scrapped five years back the provision for directly issuing arrest warrants against journalists, writers and others for writing or saying anything defamatory. The amendment to the CrPC, passed by the JS on February 2, 2011, introduced a provision for issuing summons on them.
Talking to The Daily Star on Wednesday night about the arrest warrant, Law Minister Anisul Huq said, “I have talked to the law officers in Narayanganj. I am saying this with responsibility that it won't be an arrest warrant, it would be a summons.”
ABM Nuruzzaman Khokon, president of district Awami Swechchhasebak League unit, and Advocate Moazzem Hossain Babul, a member of district AL unit, filed two pleas with the Court of Senior Judicial Magistrate Ahsan Habib for bringing sedition charges against Mahfuz Anam.
The court directed the officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station to run a probe upon taking permission from the government.
Besides, Advocate Jasim Uddin Ahmed, assistant public prosecutor and assistant secretary of Mymensingh Bar Association, filed a defamation suit with the Court of Senior Judicial Magistrate Rafiqul Bari against the Star editor.
The court asked the OC of Gouripur Police Station to carry out an investigation and take necessary steps.
SM Al Mamun, president of Chittagong Jubo League unit (north), filed a complaint with the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Farid Alam, seeking to sue Mahfuz Anam for sedition.
The court ordered the OC of Kotwali Police Station to launch a probe after taking permission from the government.
Moreover, Prabir Paul, general secretary of Satkania unit Bangabandhu Parishad, lodged a libel case with the same court, claiming Tk 100 crore in compensation.
The court issued a summons, asking the Star editor to appear before it.
Besides, Md Giasuddin, general secretary of Chittagong district Bangladesh Chhatra League unit, filed another defamation suit with the Metropolitan Magistrate's court against Mahfuz Anam.
Metropolitan Magistrate Jhalak Roy didn't pass any order on the matter, said court sources.
Habib Sheikh, a freedom fighter from Haimchar upazila, filed a libel suit with the court of Magistrate Nusrat Jahan Urmi against the Star editor, demanding compensation of Tk 10 crore.
The court directed the district information officer to investigate the matter and submit a report by March 31.
Advocate Ashraful Hasan, former general secretary of Rajbari Government College BCL unit, lodged a defamation case with the Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court against Mahfuz Anam.
The complainant demanded Tk 5 crore in compensation.
After the hearing, the court ordered the district information officer to carry out a probe and submit a report in a month.
Mizanur Rahman Tito, office secretary of district AL unit, lodged a defamation suit with the Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court against Mahfuz Anam, claiming compensation of Tk 500 crore.
The court took the case into cognisance and fixed March 20 for hearing, said Public Prosecutor Nripendranath Mondal.
Monoranjan Sheel Nokul, organising secretary of Shibalaya upazila AL unit, filed a libel case with the Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court against the Star editor, demanding Tk 200 crore in compensation.
The court ordered the OC of Manikganj Sadar Police Station to launch an investigation and take steps in this regard.
Ruhid Hasan Rintu, a member of Gaibandha Jubo League, filed a defamation suit with the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court against Mahfuz Anam, claiming compensation of Tk 10,000 crore.
The court summoned the Star editor to appear before it on March 24.
Mohammed Al Amin, president of Meghna upazila BCL unit, filed a libel case with the Court of Senior Judicial Magistrate (cognisance) Shuvra Chakrabarty.
The court asked the district information officer to submit a report in this regard on March 28.
Amanat Hossain Khan, education secretary of Gazipur district AL unit, lodged a defamation suit with the Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court against Mahfuz Anam, demanding Tk 5 crore in compensation.
The court issued a summons on the Star editor, asking him to appear before it on June 2.