Fate of 600 graft cases uncertain
Fate of 600 graft cases filed during the now defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) has become uncertain due to absence of witnesses under five districts in greater Chittagong.
The cases have been activated again after the merging of BAC with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The cases were filed in connection with embezzlement of government fund and properties in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and the hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.
Many of the cases were filed in the early eighties, the sources at court said.
With the cases proceeding at a snail's pace many of the witnesses, mostly of them are government officials and employees, either died or retired from their service, sources added.
Beside, absence of the court the lawyers and others concerned as well as even the judges of the court in Chittagong had to go to Rangamati, Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Cox's Bazar for recording deposition of the witnesses on the scheduled dates of hearing in connection with the cases.
A six-member team, including a judge, went to Cox's Bazar last month to conduct hearing of 10 cases while four witnesses in two cases appeared before the court to make deposition, said the sources.
The team conducted hearing in 14 cases in Rangamati on January 31 this year when only three witnesses of three cases appeared.
Same situation prevailed in the other districts about the other cases, they said.
Special Public Prosecutor Advocate Mohammad Saleh Zahur said the government initiative to speed up the cases is very little since absence of witnesses hampers the proceeding.
Most of the witnesses have either become very old or died while many were transferred elsewhere, he said.
“As such the 'witness warrant' the court issues hardly reach the witnesses or get response,” said the special PP.
He said a rule to allow the witnesses to make deposition at nearby courts with the consent of the court concerned would help solve the problem to some extent.
Sources said disposal of the cases would have earned the government a handsome amount of money that convicts are bound to return.
The proceedings of the cases slowed down further after the dissolution of BAC with the formation of ACC, sources said.
The cases have been activated after a directive of the law and home ministries 10 months ago, sources added.