The High Court yesterday directed the home secretary to make arrangements for examining whether noted photographer Shahidul Alam was tortured in custody.
“We direct the respondent No 1 [home secretary] to arrange for further examination with regard to torture of detainee Dr Shahidul Alam,” a two-judge HC bench said in the order.
The bench also asked the secretary to submit a report to this effect before the lower court concerned by August 13.
HC said in the order that Rahnuma Ahmed, wife of Shahidul, can take any step at the lower court concerned about the case against Shahidul in accordance with law.
The bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Rahnuma challenging the lower court order that placed Shahidul on a seven-day remand.
A Dhaka court on Monday placed Shahidul Alam on remand in a case filed under the controversial Section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act on charges of spreading propaganda and false information against the government.
The same day, Shahidul told the court that he was tortured in custody. Police refuted the allegation.
During hearing on the writ petition yesterday, Rahnuma's lawyer Sara Hossain told the HC that Shahidul was blind folded and punched in the nose after he was picked up in an unlawful manner and he was tortured physically and mentally after he was detained.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities formed a four-member medical board to examine Shahidul's physical and mental condition. The board's report submitted to the HC mentions that he is physically and mentally sound, Sara said.
She argued before the HC that there was no psychologist in the medical board to examine his mental condition.
As per Section 2 (6) of Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013, torture means both mental and physical torture, she said.
Neither the law enforcers nor the magistrate concerned followed the apex court directives in detaining Shahidul and placing him on a seven-day remand, she added.
The lawyer prayed to the HC to pass an order on the authorities concerned of the government for examining Shahidul's mental state and whether he was mentally and physically tortured in custody.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the writ petition saying that Shahidul was not tortured in any manner as the BSMMU medical board clearly said he was mentally and physically sound.
The magistrate concerned has rightly placed Shahidul on remand, he said, adding the magistrate in the order asked police to interrogate him as per the Supreme Court directives.
He has been legally detained in a specific case and he was produced before the magistrate court concerned, so the writ petition is misconceived and it should be rejected, the attorney general argued.
Dr Kamal Hossain, Shahdeen Malik, Syeda Rizwana Hasan and Jyotirmoy Barua also represented the writ petitioner.
Earlier in the day, the SC kept pending till August 13 a petition filed by the government against an HC order that on August 7 directed the authorities to send Shahidul to BSMMU for examination and treatment.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order after Sara informed the apex court that the HC was scheduled yesterday for hearing the writ petition filed challenging the remand order against Shahidul.
The apex court was set yesterday to hold hearing on the government petition.