“I'm shocked to see the pitiable, terrible and chameleon form of the world.” Poet Sukanta Bhattacharya made such an expression in his poetry. He wrote it ridiculing misrule and hypocrisy of the British colonial regime. Later, British and Pakistani occupation rulers were ousted from Indian Sub-Continent and the Bengal. But the lines are still relevant with the present context in Bangladesh. Instead of showing repentance, the thieves and burglars show arrogance and speak loudly. There is no sign of sense of guilt. Rather, the offenders tend to dominate the court of justice and give tuppence for rule of law. Let me come to the point.
A few days back, I was going along the road in front of the Jatiya Press Club. I saw some people holding posters and speaking something. It made me curious. My gunman told me that these people are protesting the closure of Daily Dinkal by the government authorities. It was a broadsheet Bengali daily of a fugitive convicted BNP leader Tarique Rahman. The crowd in favour of convict made me surprised. The government’s move is justified. One needs no legal knowledge to understand that a fugitive has no right to prolong his newspaper publication. I collected a poster which reads: “On April 16, 2002, Dhaka District Magistrate granted permission to Tarique Rahman to run the newspaper. But, on October 14, 2021, the Magistrate cancelled the declaration. The aggrieved party moved to Press Appeal Board which rejected the appeal.”
notice upon the authority of the said newspaper which did not make any reply.
Later, the District Magistrate rightly cancelled declaration of Daily Dinkal in exercise of its power under the Printing Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act of 1973. Some people filed an appeal with the Press Appeal Board challenging the decision. Hearing all parties, on February 19, 2023, the Press Appeal Board rejected the appeal upholding the decision of the Magistrate.
Self-exiled Tarique Rahman tried to influence the Appeal Board furnishing false information. He claimed to have submitted a power of attorney to BNP leader but Bangladesh High Commission in London did not proceed it. It seems that some lawyers moved the appeal. They are supposed to know that no authority or court can entertain any application filed by s fugitive convict. As s fugitive has no legal right, he is called outlaw. Given the circumstances, the decision of the Press Appeal Board is justified.
“The printer and publisher of the newspaper Tarique Rahman left the country long ago. He remains absent more than six months. So, declaration in favour of him deserves revoking. Moreover, Tarique Rahman is convicted by the court of Bangladesh. He remains fugitive. It is not possible for a convict like him to continue with the declaration right,” Appeal Board said in its order.
Tarique Rahman and his people made many mistakes. Instead of the publisher, the General Manager appointed the appellant.
In conclusion, I would like to say that filing appeal on behalf of a fugitive convict is a criminal offence and the people associated with it should be punished. They deserve punishment for maintaining contact with the convict.
The writer is former
Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
Translated by M Firoz Al Mamun.