Cabinet approves draft of ICT amendment bill

DHAKA: The cabinet on Monday approved the proposal to amend Section 21 (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, to ensure equal facilities for both the prosecution and the defence to appeal.

In its weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the cabinet cleared the draft of the proposed bill of the Law Ministry.

According to the ICT Act, 1973, the government can appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against an order of acquittal under Section 21(2).

On the other hand, a person convicted of any crime specified in Section 3 and sentenced by the tribunal, can appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against such conviction and the sentence in accordance with Section 21(1). Accordingly, the government can only have the right to appeal in the case of acquittal but not for the inadequate sentence delivered any by the tribunal.

In 2009, the law was amended to give the government the right to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against a war crimes verdict in the event of “an order of acquittal”.

Despite this amendment, the government — which represents the victims in war crimes cases — still does not have the right to appeal in the case of inadequate sentence.

But the proposed amendment of the ICT law would ensure genuine justice, both for the aggrieved person/party and the prosecution. After the amendment, there will be no obstacle to appeal against the verdict on Quader Molla.

The draft amendment provides that the appellate division of Supreme Court must complete the hearing within 45 days after filing the appeal.

“If the appellate division fails to complete the hearing by 45 days for any special reasons, they will get another 15 days,” Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier on Sunday law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed told reporters that after approval of the cabinet, the bill will be placed before the Parliament as soon as possible for passage during its current session.

The issue of amending the ICT Act has come to the fore, following the conviction of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla. He was awarded a life term by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on February 5.

At present the prosecution is able to appeal only against acquittals, but not against the inadequacy of sentences.

Source: The Independent

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