We have been vigorously against the idea of sweepingly withdrawing cases instituted on so-called politically motivated grounds. We had reservations too about the “National Committee on Withdrawal of Politically Motivated Cases.” We are convinced that it was a patently wrong idea primarily because the merit of a case can only be determined by a judge in the court of law and not by a committee set up for this purpose. And our apprehensions have been borne out by the manner in which the matter has been dealt with. Many cases have been withdrawn so far, on the recommendations of the district committees that display a high degree of political partisanship.

In the past the government in certain cases had had to retract orders when it was pointed out by the media that most of those being set free, supposedly victims of political grudge, were in fact known criminals, as happened only very recently. We commend the government for taking media reports seriously. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Reportedly, till June 2010 according to police statistics, there is a list of 3000 recommend cases for withdrawal involving nearly 10000 accused. And although these have been considered under the category of “politically motivated cases,” many are in fact cases that involve robbery, theft, repression of women and women trafficking.

We are constrained to repeat our concerns because, it is learnt from a report appearing in daily Prothom Alo that the said committee is contemplating withdrawal of 52 so-called politically motivated cases, some of which involve dacoity and murder too. It is surprising that the merits of the individual cases have not been considered thoroughly either by the district committees or the national committee. And the comments of the state minister for law that the government has decided to recommended the withdrawal with an open mind, and should there be any mistake, those could be rectified later. We find this very surprising, to say the least.

We cannot understand how murder cases, where the accused have been charge-sheeted, after going through the process of investigation by the police, can merit consideration for withdrawal. We cannot understand how the national committee, which is headed by a lawyer, can countenance subversion of the due process of law. We are not surprised that the police have expressed their disagreement on the matter.

This is taking political partisanship to the extreme. The authorities cannot afford to disregard the moral dimension of the issue. The authorities concerned should be fully aware of the grave impact such a step will have not only on the victims and their families, but also on the morale of the law enforcing agencies. It will be at the expense of the principle of natural justice and to the detriment of the rule of law and good governance if the decision is not reversed. Although there have been cases motivated by political considerations, we suggest that there be a rethink on the way the issue is being handled bypassing the due process.

Source: The Daily Star – 03.01.2011