Writ Petition No. 7578 of 2003
High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Facts: BLAST filed a writ petition impugning the prolonged detention of 155 under-trial prisoners in Dhaka Central Jail, based on a news report published in the Daily Star. BLAST also submitted a supplementary affidavit furnishing a detailed list of 7409 persons languishing in custody without trial for an indefinite period. The Deputy Attorney General filed a report from the Additional Inspector General of Prisons which admitted that among those 7402, there were 118 women and 214 children below the age of eighteen years.
Argument: The petitioners argued that the continued custody of the under-trial prisoners was ultra vires of Sections 167 and 339C of the Code of Criminal Procedure and also amounted to a violation of the fundamental rights to personal liberty and to speedy trial as guaranteed by Articles 31, 32 and 35 (3) of the Constitution and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The petitioners argued that the Government was bound to provide legal aid to prisoners under the Legal Aid Services Act, 2000 and that there was non-compliance with the directions laid down in Suo Motu Order No. 248 of 2003 providing for expeditious disposal of cases relating to juveniles, consideration by government for making prayer to Court for discharge of juveniles, withdrawal of cases against juveniles, legal aid for juveniles, keeping juveniles separate from adults, allowance of visits to juveniles by human rights activists and children organizations and expeditious transfer of juveniles to correction houses and approved homes.
Order: The High Court delivered judgment on 03.08.2004 directing compliance with the earlier direction made in Suo Motu Order No. 248 of 2003 and directing the respondents to report compliance within six months.
Status: Judgment delivered
Laws Cited: Constitution, Articles 31, 32, 35 (3); Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; Legal Aid Services Act, 2000
International Instrument Cited: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966
Reported: 57 DLR (2005) 11