105 more cases to be dropped
The government yesterday decided to withdraw 105 more 'politically motivated' cases filed during the last BNP-Jamaat alliance government and the subsequent caretaker regime.
The cases to be dropped include a case against BNP leader Moudud Ahmed in connection with possession of alcoholic beverages.
Dropping of the case against Moudud will be the first instance of withdrawing a 'politically motivated' case against any opposition leader, by the Awami League-led coalition government.
An inter-ministerial committee for reviewing 'politically motivated' cases recommended the withdrawals, in its sixth meeting chaired by State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam.
The meeting reviewed 288 cases referred by relevant district committees, 42 of which had been filed by the Anti-corruption Commission. The committee rejected pleas for withdrawal of 36 cases while deciding to have more discussion on 133 cases in its next meeting.
The district committees formed across the country to receive appeals for withdrawal of 'politically motivated' cases selected 4,433 such cases so far for review, 1,137 of which were placed before the review committee, meeting sources said.
The liquor case against former law minister Moudud Ahmed, which was filed under the Emergency Power Rules (EPR), was recommended for withdrawal as the review committee found it 'politically motivated', said Qamrul Islam after the meeting at the home ministry.
"The former law minister was charged with secretly importing foreign liquors and keeping those in his house illegally for sale. But our inquiry reveals he might have got the liquors as gifts, or kept those in his house to drink or to entertain guests," Qamrul briefed reporters.
He said the review committee will consider more applications from the opposition camp for withdrawal of such cases, if it gets any. He however accused the main opposition BNP and also Moudud of not extending similar courtesy to AL leaders and activists when the latter was the opposition.
"But we will not follow the culture. We will judge everyone equally," said the state minister for law, adding that cases filed with intentions of harassing apolitical people will also be considered for withdrawal, and already some of those were selected for quashing.
Qamrul Islam said with the latest 105 cases, the committee so far recommended 455 cases for quashing.
Cases filed against AL leaders Abdul Jalil, Obaidul Quader, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Haji Mohammed Selim, Lotus Kamal, Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali and businessman Salman F Rahman during the same period were also recommended for quashing.
The AL-led government after assuming power decided to review cases filed against politicians and others with 'political motives' during the tenures of the last BNP-led four-party alliance and the subsequent caretaker governments. Later, an inter-ministerial committee and committees in each district were formed to carry out the process of review.
The home ministry invited applications for cancellation of the cases in February and the deadlines for submitting applications were extended three times up to July 12.
The first of the inter-ministerial meetings was held on June 10 which recommended withdrawal of 62 cases, including 12 against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
State minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku was also present during yesterday's briefing.