Case records go missing from court

Finger pointed at a driver; 4 trials stall; record room security questioned
Case records missing from court

Records and documents of four narcotics cases have gone missing about 10 months ago from a Dhaka court, raising questions about the security measures at the record room.

The cases, filed over the last seven to 21 years, are pending with the Special Judge's Court-2 of Dhaka. But trial proceedings have remained halted since the discovery of the potential breach of the sensitive room.

Mohammad Ashek Ali, the court's bench assistant, said he found the documents missing days after he joined the court on January 12. He has since been looking for the documents with no success.

On June 5, he informed Judge Abu Saleh Mohammad Ruhul Imran of the matter in writing. The judge could not take any action as his last working day at the court was on June 8, the day he received Ashek's application for investigation.

Later that month, Ashek wrote to the registrar of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, requesting a probe. 

In the letter, he named Mohammad Rasel, the driver of the then judge Abu Saleh, as a suspect.

According to the letter, Rasel has been working at the court for around 14 years. He would "search files" of various cases at the storeroom during court hours, and would provide copies of the documents to different people for money.

"When I brought the matter up with Rasel, he became very agitated. On January 30, he threatened me and court staffer Johurul Islam, saying that he could even have our pension benefits cancelled," he said in the letter.

Along with the letter, he furnished several court documents detailing various allegations made against Rasel in the past and the warnings he received from lower court judges. 

Talking to The Daily Star recently, Ashek alleged that Rasel threatened him a second time on June 21 on the court premises with dire consequences, saying that he was on good terms with the drivers of distinguished personalities in the judiciary and ministries.

Rasel dismissed the allegations.

"I am a driver of the judges. I am the custodian of the court's car, not case records. The bench assistants and peons are the custodian of the records," he said.

Khurshid Alam Khan, an eminent criminal lawyer, said the alleged incident would have serious impact on the cases in question.

It is also a "grave message" for the judiciary, he said, adding that those involved should be taken to task.

"The court is our custodian. If records disappear from the court, people will lose faith in it," said Mohammad Shaheenoor Islam, also a criminal lawyer.

Supreme Court Registrar General Md Golam Rabbani said last month, "We are looking into the matter."

In September, when he was the registrar of the HC, Rabbani said, "I know that the court concerned will take action in this regard."


In September 2001, the Department of Narcotics Control arrested a man named Harun-Or-Rashid from the capital's Gendaria for allegedly carrying 10 grams of heroin. The department pressed charges against him in January next year.

In March 2011, police arrested Rabeya Begum and Meherun Nesa from Mirpur's Darus Salam area for "possessing" 12 bottles of Phensedyl. They were charged later that month.

In January 2013, police held one Abu Taher Liton from the capital's Pallabi for "possessing" 10 bottles of Phensedyl. Pallabi police pressed charges against him the next month.

In May 2015, police arrested Shipon and Mohammad Jewel from Jatrabari's Dolaipar area and "recovered" 150 ampoules of pethidine injection from their possession. The same month, Jatrabari police pressed charges against them.

All accused are out on bail.

The first three cases carry jail sentences between two and 10 years, while the last carries up to death penalty.

Dhaka's Special Judge's Court-2 was scheduled to hear the cases on different dates in January and April this year, but that did not happen as the documents went missing.


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