Odhikar's Adilur, Elan Sentenced to 2 Years Jail in ICT Case

dilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the human rights organization 'Odhikar', and director of the same organization ASM Nasir Uddin Elan || Photo: Collected

dilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the human rights organization 'Odhikar', and director of the same organization ASM Nasir Uddin Elan || Photo: Collected

The court sentenced Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the human rights organization 'Odhikar', and director of the same organization ASM Nasir Uddin Elan to 2 years imprisonment in a case under the ICT Act (presently Cyber Security Act) for creating confusion about the number of deaths in the Hefajat-e-Islam rally at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel.

Today (Thursday, September 14) the judgment of this case was announced in the court of Judge AM Zulfikar Hayat of Dhaka Cyber Tribunal.

According to the observation of the judgment of the case, 'Odhikar' the organization of Adilur and Elan has tarnished the image of Bangladesh by spreading false information about police action on a Hefajat-e-Islam rally in Motijheel in the capital on 6 May 2013. 

Meanwhile, observers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia appeared on the court premises to hear the judgment of the case filed under the ICT Act.

Earlier, after presenting the arguments of the state and the accused on August 24, the judge set September 7 as the day to announce the verdict. However, as it was not ready that day, the judge delayed the announcement of the verdict and decided today. Two accused Adilur and Elan who are on bail are present in the court.

According to the complaint of the case, 11 people including the police died in the morning of May 5, 2013, in the incident of attack and clash with the police in the rally of Hefajat-e-Islam. However, Odhikar's website mentions the death of 61 people on June 10 of the same year. Some doctored photos were also added to the report. The accused have committed an offense under Section 57 of the ICT Act, 2006 by inciting the majority Muslim population and tarnishing the image of the state through this report.

Section 57(1) of the repealed Act states that if any person knowingly publishes or broadcasts on a website or in any other electronic format anything that is false and obscene or which, having regard to the circumstances involved, may be read, seen, or heard by any person who may be induced to be immoral or dishonest, or which causes or threatens to cause defamation, deterioration of law and order, tarnishes the image of the State or individual or hurts religious sentiments or is likely to cause incitement against any person or organization through such information, shall be considered an offense.

Section 57(2) provides for maximum 14 years and minimum 7 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Tk 1 crore for this crime.

Dhaka Cyber Tribunal Special Public Prosecutor Nazrul Islam Shamim said that the case of Adilur Rahman and two others has been tried under section 57 of the ICT Act. The Act carries a maximum imprisonment of 14 years and a minimum of 7 years. We have been able to prove the crime by presenting all the evidence from the State side. I hope they will be punished according to the law.

However, the lawyer of the accused, Mohammad Ruhul Amin Bhuiyan, hopes that they will be acquitted. Earlier, he told the reporters, I hope both will be acquitted in the verdict. Because we have been able to prove that the allegations leveled against the accused in the case are not true. The state also could not prove the allegations.

On August 24, the arguments of the state and the accused ended. On the same day, the court fixed September 7 for the verdict. However, as the judgment was not ready on that day, September 14 was fixed as a new day for the judgment.

According to the report of the case, the human rights organization Odhikar published a report on the death of 61 people in the rally of Hefajat-e-Islam at Shapla Chattar in 2013. On July 10 of that year, the Ministry of Information sent a letter to Odhikar asking for the list of those killed. But the organization refused to give the list.

Later, on August 10 of the same year, DB Sub-Inspector Ashraful Islam made a general diary at Gulshan Police Station. Odhikar's secretary Adilur Rahman Khan was arrested on the same day. Adilur got bail from the High Court on October 9 of that year.

After the investigation, on September 4, 2013, a charge sheet was submitted against Adilur and Elan with 32 witnesses. On September 11 that year, the court issued an arrest warrant against the absconding accused Elan. On January 8, 2014, the trial began with the filing of a complaint. After the order regarding the framing of the complaint, if the case is quashed in the High Court, the proceedings are suspended by the order of the High Court.

Testimony in the case began on September 5, 2021, after the High Court lifted the stay order. After two years of trial, the case was set for judgment.

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