Wrongful custody of Jahlam
HC orders BRAC Bank to pay Tk 15 lakh as compensation
Staff Reporter :
The High Court on Wednesday ordered the BRAC Bank to pay Tk 15 lakh as compensation to Jahlam, a jute mills worker, who spent three years in jail instead of real one, for the wrongful identification by two officials of the bank.
BRAC Bank authorities have been asked to pay the amount within one month receiving the High Court order and they have to inform it in written to the Supreme Court registrar general office within one week complying with the order.
The High Court bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader delivered the verdict after hearing a Suo Moto rule issued earlier after a Supreme Court lawyer, Amit Das Gupta, brought some news reports on the wrongful detention of Jahlam to the attention of the High Court.
The BRAC Bank was one of the banks through which the cheques of the embezzled money were cleared.
During the investigation of the case, two officers of BRAC Bank, Shaymoli Branch's manager Sabina Sarmin and Asad Gate Barnch's operation manager Md Faysal Kayes, went to Jahalam's work place and identified him as Abu Salek, who took the loan and embezzled the money.
The court expressed dissatisfaction at the role of Anti-Corruption Commission as the high officials of the organization did not properly supervise the performance of the 11 investigation officers who were newly appointed.
The 11 investigation officers showed their incompetency, negligence and inefficiency in dealing with the investigation, opined the court. And the court hoped that the ACC would not assign such inefficient and incompetent officers for investigating any case in future.
The court hoped that the ACC which is a Constitutional, independent and powerful body which is working to protect the rights of the people would not act in such a way that could make tham questionable.
The court asked the ACC and other concerned authorities to take initiatives for disposing of the cases filed for misappropriating of Tk 18.5 crore and the departmental proceedings initiated against the accused officials of the BRAC Bank and Sonali Bank immediately.
Jahlam, a jute mills worker, had been arrested on February 6, 2016 taking him for Abu Salek, who is the actual accused in 33 cases that the ACC had filed in 2014 over loan fraud and embezzlement amounting to Tk 18.5 crore from Sonali Bank.
When the ACC sent for Salek, the summons went to the address of Jahlam, who, in turn, met officials of the corruption watchdog and insisted that he was not Salek.
He also told the ACC that the photo that had been used to open the Sonali Bank account was not his either. But the bank's officials still identified him as Salek and the jute mills worker was eventually arrested in Ghorashal following the ACC's green light.
On May 27 the same year, Jahlam was transferred to the Dhaka Central Jail 2.
In January 2019, several media reports brought the matter of Jahlam's innocence to the ACC's attention, forcing further investigations into the matter.
The High Court on January 28, 2019 summoned four officials, including a representative of the chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, to explain as to why Jahlam has been in jail custody for the last three years in place of the original accused.
The court also issued a Suo Moto rule upon the respondents to explain in four weeks as to why the confinement of Jahlam should not be declared illegal.
After hearing the ACC officials, the High Court on February 3 last year directed the jail authorities to release Jahlam and he was released from jail on February 4.
After hearing the rule in detail from the parties, the court delivered the verdict on Wednesday.
During the hearing of the Suo Moto rule the court heard lawyers Amit Das Gupta, Khurshid Alam Khan, Suvas Chandra Das and others.