Press should be a fearless watchdog on democracy: Bangladesh High Court

The bench said that newspapers play an important role in a democracy by being the spokesperson for all classes.


Illustration: Biplob Chakroborty

November 14, 2022

DHAKA – The High Court in the full text of a verdict has observed that corruption pervades the society, and the press should act as an efficient and fearless watchdog on democracy.

The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam said, “Newspapers play an important role in a democracy by being the spokesperson for people of all classes. They act as a bridge between the government and the people…”.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan, who received a copy of the full text on November 10, yesterday told The Daily Star that the 40-page text was released last week.

On July 31, 2018, the HC bench, led by Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder, delivered the verdict after hearing a rule issued by another bench over granting bail to Justice Md Joynul Abedin, a former judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, in connection with an ACC notice.

That day, the bench also scrapped an order that granted anticipatory bail to Joynul in 2010.

The ACC in July 2010 sent the notice to Joynul seeking his bank statements.

On July 10, 2017, another HC bench granted the anticipatory bail to Joynul and also issued a rule asking the government and the anti-graft watchdog to explain why he should not be granted permanent bail.

In the petition, Justice Joynul Abedin annexed two reports published in the Daily Janakantha on June 5 and 7 in 2017, under headlines “Sabek Bicharpatir Durneeti Tadante Supreme Court Proshasoner Badha” and “Sabek Ek Bicharpatir Tandante Theme Nei Dudak”. He had expressed fear that the ACC might arrest him following the news reports.

Justice Joynul had led the one-man judicial enquiry into the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka. His probe found “foreign enemy links” to the attack.

In the full text, the HC judges observed, “We have gone through the contents of the news reports [of the Daily Janakantha] … We have not found any reference of any officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission or the police, who have divulged anything about any steps to arrest or harass or humiliate the petitioner during pendency of the enquiry.

“The journalists of the Daily Janakantha [who worked on the reports] as part of their duty and responsibility, published the reports with a view to bringing this matter to the notice of the people and the authorities. It cannot be said that it has created an apprehension of arrest by the ACC under Section 21 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2004.”

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