Abuse of laws can’t uphold the rule of law

THE High Court summons on the upazila nirbahi officer of Sakhipur, who led a mobile court as an executive magistrate, for sentencing, under the Information and Communications Technology Act, a schoolboy to two years’ imprisonment in Tangail on charge of giving a threat to the local ruling Awami League lawmaker in a Facebook posting and the officer-in-charge of the Sakhipur police, for producing the boy before the mobile court after his arrest on a general diary filed by the lawmaker is heartening. The court, acting suo moto on taking cognisance of a newspaper report, granted the boy an ad interim bail and asked the upazila nirbahi officer and the police officer-in-charge to appear in court on September 27 and explain the legality of mobile court sentence. The upazila nirbahi officer is reported to have been held to account on charge of several violations — a mobile court cannot sentence someone for an offence under the Information and Communications Technology Act; a mobile court cannot sentence any child, which is the jurisdiction of only a juvenile court and a mobile court cannot sentence an offender for an offence not committed before the court. This very well construe to be an abuse of power.
The police are also reported to have been held to account on charge of the violation of law by arresting the schoolboy and producing him before the mobile court without investigating the general diary that the lawmaker filed in this connection. Such flagrant violation of law, especially when complainants are powerful, politically or financially, and the accused are from the poor, and thus powerless, section of society, has been nothing new; yet all such events, taking one after another down the ages, have, but for a few incidents, largely been ignored, even by authorities mandated to look into such issues. It is here the High Court has done a commendable job by summoning, that too acting on its own, the officers in question to appear in court and explain the legality of their action. This is important as a step towards upholding the rule of law and all such small steps put together can stop all such incidents of abuse of power, and the law, and put society on the right track. The Information and Communications Technology Act, which is reported to have been abused by the mobile court in question, is also reported to have been abused in other instances. Cases are not rare that even criticism of government leaders, people’s representatives in other words, online has had several people incarcerated. But such criticism is considered the driving force of democracy and is a good way for the government to keep debates alive in a democratic polity.
The court, therefore, should follow through the present case and ask the government for a list of any such abuse of law and power, which has happened in the past, so that proper action against such violation could be taken to establish the rule of law.

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