The High Court yesterday directed Brac Bank Ltd to pay Tk 15 lakh in compensation to jute mill worker Jaha Alam, who had been wrongly imprisoned for three years in place of the real accused in several corruption cases.
The HC ordered the bank to make the payment within a month of receiving the verdict copy as two of its officials — Faisal Kayes and Sabina Sharmin — supplied the photo and information of Jaha Alam, instead of the real accused Abu Salek, to the investigation officers of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The ACC investigation officers then identified Jaha Alam and implicated him in the corruption cases, the court observed.
Delivering the verdict on a suo moto rule, the HC ordered Brac Bank Ltd to submit a report to this court through the Supreme Court registrar general’s office after complying with the directive, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star.
The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader also cautioned the ACC to be careful in conducting inquiries into corruption cases and in appointing investigation officers so that such incidents are not repeated.
The bench observed that there was negligence and incompetence on the part of the investigation officers of the ACC when conducting inquiries into the cases as they were young in the service, but they did not have any malafide intention.
The HC judges appreciated the daily Prothom Alo and private television Channel 24 for publishing reports on the wrong imprisonment of Jaha Alam.
They also appreciated lawyer Amit Das Gupta, who placed the newspaper reports before the court for releasing Jaha Alam from jail, and also ACC Director (Legal Wing) Abul Hasnat Md Abdul Wadud for his probe report over the incident.
In the report submitted on July 11 last year, Abul Hasnat said the error in identifying Jaha Alam as Abu Salek happened because of the ACC’s investigation officers.
He said in the report that 12 ACC officials investigated the corruption cases involving Jaha Alam as the accused instead of Abu Salek.
Yesterday, the HC asked the ACC to finish the departmental proceedings against its 12 investigation officers as early as possible. The HC bench did not release the full text of the verdict.
Brac Bank Ltd’s lawyer M Asaduzzaman could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts on his mobile phone.
The HC bench on January 28 last year issued the rule asking the authorities concerned of the ACC, Brac Bank Ltd and government why they should not be directed to release Jaha Alam and to compensate him for his hardships in jail instead of the real accused.
The bench came up with the rule following a report published in the Bangla daily Prothom Alo on the day under the headline “Wrong accused in jail in 33 cases: Sir, I am Jaha Alam, not Salek”.
The court issued the rule after SC lawyer Amit Das Gupta, now a deputy attorney general, placed the newspaper reports before the HC bench for necessary orders.
On February 3 last year, the HC directed the jail authorities to release Jaha Alam from jail immediately and he was released the same day.
On that day, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told the HC bench that the commission has made a mistake by accusing Jaha Alam in the cases.
The commission has already submitted an application to the lower court concerned to exonerate Jaha Alam from the cases, he said.
Deputy Attorney General Abdullah Al-Mahmud Bashar represented the state.