Over 350 ACC cases stalled following HC stay orders

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Pns: The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has not been able to proceed with the trial in at least 360 graft cases filed against top government officials, businessmen and political leaders due to stay orders issued by the High Court (HC).

Official ACC data shows that from January to August this year, trial proceedings in 360 cases have been stayed.

However, ACC lawyer advocate Khurshid Alam Khan differed with the ACC data, saying the number of stay orders would not be more than 200.

“The data is absolutely wrong. I have already disposed of more than 100 cases this year. If such a large number of cases were to be stayed by the HC, the lower courts would be at a standstill,” Alam said. He said in response to a query that soon after filing of the cases by the ACC, the accused tried to stay the trial proceedings in several ways, such as filing of petitions seeking stay orders and quashing of the cases. This has

resulted in delay in disposal of the cases following injunctions and piling up of pending cases.

According to court and ACC sources, in 2009, a total of 780 cases were under trial in different special judge’s courts, and trial proceedings in 79 were stayed by the High Court.

In 2010, a total of 1,205 cases were under trial, and trial proceedings in 106 were stayed by the higher court, the sources added.

The sources also said that the number of stay orders issued by the HC has increased over the years. In 2011, a total of 1,642 cases were under trial in different special judge’s courts, and trial proceedings were stayed by the High Court in 312 cases. A total of 69 cases were disposed of, in which conviction took place in 14 and acquittals in 55 cases, recording a conviction rate of 20 per cent.

In 2012, a total of 2,016 cases were under trial. Of them, 411 were stayed by the HC, 132 were disposed of. Convictions occurred in 42 cases, while the accused were acquitted in 90 cases.

In 2013, a total of 2,380 cases were under trial, but 350 were stayed by the HC. At least 183 cases were disposed of, with convictions in 67 cases and acquittals in 116.

In 2014, the number of cases under trial was 2,724. The HC issued stay orders in 414. A total of 159 cases were disposed of, with punishment in 73 and the accused being let off in 86 cases, according to the ACC sources.

In 2015, a total of 3,097 cases were under trial, but the HC issued stay orders in 437 cases. Trials in 188 cases were completed; the accused were convicted in 69 cases and acquitted in 119.

In 2016, a total of 2,717 cases were under trial, where the trial proceedings in 400 were stayed by the High Court. A total of 214 cases were disposed of, in which the accused were convicted in 116 cases and acquitted in 98.

Till August this year, a total of 2,704 cases were under trial in different courts. Trial proceedings in 360 cases were stayed by the HC. A total of 164 cases were disposed of in eight months (January-August) with convictions in 110 cases and acquittals in 54.

ACC officials said the conviction rate in the cases filed by the now defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) was very poor. But the conviction rate had increased in recent times.

The government established the Anti corruption Commission in 2004 by passing an Act, abolishing the then Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC).

The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, said the ACC was now trying to work more responsibly than the earlier body. The commission should maintain the pace of its work to eradicate corruption from the country.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the ACC would have to speed up its efforts to look into major corruption cases filed against high-level officials or political leaders. People’s confidence in the commission will increase, if it strengthens its drives against powerful corrupt persons, he added.

ACC counsel Khurshid Alam Khan said they were trying to dispose of cases stayed by the High Court, through the final hearing of the rules issued by the HC with the stay orders.

“If the High Court holds the final hearing on the rules, the cases will be finally disposed of. If the HC disposes of the cases, the number of the stay orders would also decrease and the goal of the ACC to punish the corrupt would be achieved,” he added.

Echoing the same view, company law expert senior lawyer Advocate Shah Monjurul Hoque told this correspondent the shortage of judges and lack of skilled judges is also responsible for increasing the backlog of civil cases in the High Court Division.

He also said, “Unwillingness of lawyers, petitioners and respondents are also responsible for such increasing of civil cases as in sometimes they are not interested to dispose of their cases quickly.”

There is no specific and mandatory timeframes for the courts to dispose of civil related cases. Taking this opportunity the petitioners and respondents carry out the trial proceedings of the cases for indefinite periods, he noted.

The senior lawyer also said the parties of civil cases, which were filed before the assistant or senior assistant judges’ court, should not allow taking their matter before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court as they got more facilities than that most important case, which were filed before the joint district courts.

Explaining the matter, the senior lawyer said, “The less important parties, who move before the assistant judges’ courts, used to get more legal facilities as they can move assistant judge court, then district judge court, then High Court and then Appellate Division. But, the most important parties, who move before the joint district courts, used to get less legal facilities in compare with the less important cases as they could not move before the district judge. Hence, the less important parties should not allow before the Appellate Division and it should be resolved by the High Court Division finally,” he noted.

PNS/Tamanna Khan



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