Observation on Rape Case: Judge relieved of court duties
"A wrong directive was issued to law enforcers. For this, action against her [the judge] was extremely necessary and action has been taken. This will proceed as per the law."
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain relieved Mosammat Kamrunnahar, a judge of a Dhaka tribunal, of her duties yesterday, three days after she recommended police not to register any rape case if the complainant goes to them after 72 hours of the incident.
The chief justice ordered Judge Kamrunnahar not to participate in court functions from 9:30am yesterday, says a press release from the Supreme Court, adding that the CJ made the decision following consultation with senior judges of the SC.
Besides, the SC wrote to the law ministry asking it to suspend the judge's judicial powers and attach her to the ministry, the release said.
A government notification later in the day said Judge Kamrunnahar was attached to the ministry.
On Thursday, Judge Kamrunnahar of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-7 of Dhaka acquitted all five accused, including Apan Jewellers owner's son Shafat Ahmed, in the sensational Banani Raintree double rape case.
While passing the acquittal order, she recommended that police should not record any rape case if the complainant does not show up at the police station within 72 hours of the incident.
The judge noted that the Banani case was lodged 38 days after the incident happened, and so no DNA evidence could be found. "Semen cannot be traced after 72 hours…" she said.
The recommendation drew flak from different quarters and sparked protests. Many legal experts criticised the recommendation saying it would only encourage rapists.
Court sources said Judge Kamrunnahar went to her office in the Dhaka court building yesterday morning, but she did not join the court's functions.
Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday said her observation was embarrassing for all judges.
"A wrong directive was issued to law enforcers. For this, action against her [the judge] was extremely necessary and action has been taken. This will proceed as per the law," he told reporters at his office.
He also said a wrong message would have been dispatched had the executive and the judiciary not made their stance clear on the matter and not taken necessary steps.
Talking to The Daily Star, the minister said the judge's recommendation could have a serious impact on the law enforcers and the administration. "It [the recommendation] is not related to a particular case, it impacts all rape cases," said Anisul, also a criminal law expert.
Replying to a query, he said, "You will have to wait to see what happens as the chief justice asked to suspend the judicial powers of the judge."
"I will not say that this is the first instance when such suspension will come into force," he said while answering a question. "All judges deliver orders and verdicts. Some of the orders and verdicts go in favour of the government, some don't. Appeals are filed and everything proceeds as per law. Not everything is discussed by the chief justice," he said.
On Saturday, the law minister told this newspaper that his ministry would send a letter to the chief justice for taking appropriate action against Judge Kamrunnahar.
"I will not make any comment on the judgement in the Banani Raintree Hotel rape case. But the observation made by Judge Mosammat Kamrunnahar is totally unlawful and illegal as there is no time limit in the criminal justice system for recording the case for committing a criminal offence," he said.
"I think she [Kamrunnahar] has lost the ability to hold the post of a judge because of her observation," he said.
NOTED CITIZENS SLAM RECOMMENDATION
Issuing a joint statement, 80 eminent citizens yesterday criticised the recommendation of judge Kamrunnahar in the Raintree rape case.
The recommendation contradicts the constitutional rights of women, they said in the statement, adding, "We think violence against women will rise and their possibility of getting justice will further shrink in the country because of the recommendation."
The citizens demanded a judicial probe into the trial proceedings of the Banani case. Besides, they said judges should be properly trained so that their skills increase and they can protect citizens' rights.
Those who signed the statement include Serajul Islam Choudhury, professor emeritus, Dhaka University; Meghna Guhathakurta, former member, National Human Rights Commission; Shireen Huq, member, Naripokkho; Maleka Begum, women rights activist; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association; Prof Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports; Hameeda Hossain, human rights activist; Shaheen Anam, executive director, Manusher Jonno Foundation; Farah Kabir, development activist; and Iftekharuzzaman, executive director, Transparency International Bangladesh.