Bangladesh: Nirendranath Adhikari Released After 7 Years in Jail Without Trial


Urgent Appeal Case: UA980115
ISSUES: Administration of justice,

Introduction Nirandra Nath Odhikari, 25, had been put in jail for seven years without being tried by court in Bangladesh after he was arrested allegedly for murdering his grandmother. 15 January 1998 Asian Human Rights Commission, upon receiving the information from local groups,released an Urgent Appeal[AHRC UA980115] and brought his case to the attention of Ain O Salish Kendra [ASK], a non-governmental legal aid group in the country. The suspect has finally been released on bail, thanks to the efforts of ASK, while his case is pending. We thank all of you who wrote letters to the authorities requesting for an investigation into the Nirendra case.

Asian Human Rights Commission wrote to ASK on 23 January 1998 to investigate the status of Nirandra Nath Odhikari, 25, who had been detained in Thakurgaon jail for seven years without trial. ASK wrote to the concerned authority to inquire about his case on 2 February 1998 and 10 May 1998 respectively. Nirandra had been accused of murdering his grandmother on 7 July 1991 by the Thakurgaon police station. The case file was sent to the High Court for revision and is pending. Subsequently ASK wrote to request the Ministry of Home Affairs to take necessary steps to free Nirandra. The ministry replied that they had already instructed the district magistrate to send a report on Nirandra. ASK advocate tried to locate the file in High Court. At the same time a spot investigation was carried out by ASK investigation unit.

ASK INVESTIGATION UNIT REPORTS: Srimati Nayan Bala, grandmother of Nirandra, died mysteriously, and her body was found in the Vuli river of Tewary Sakin at about 6 p.m. on 6 July 1991. Following her death, the local chief registered a case with the Thakurgoan police station charging against Nirandra as the main accused and three other suspects of murder. Police arrested Nirandra and his father, Sri Prafulla Kumar Odhikari, and tortured them with baton and electric shock. The next day officer-in-charge Kotwali P.S. released the father after taking some money and sent Nirandra to jail. Since that day Nirandra had been in jail custody without trial.

The head clerk of the Session Court informed ASK that four persons were accused in the case. The final report issued by the police acquitted two of them, Jahiruddin and Anawarul Haq. But a decree was issued by the Session Court against Jahiruddin, who then shifted his case to the High Court division. Since then the original file has been in the High Court.

District jailer Md. Shafiqul Islam said that the trial procedure of Nirandra’s case had been postponed since the case was transferred to the High Court. The court once heard evidence of seven witnesses, and the accused was produced before the court on the fixed date.

Nirandra told ASK in an interview that his grandmother became the owner of a large land property after his grandfather’s death. Nirandra got involved in a case with his grandfather’s brother somehow. As Nirandra was a schoolboy at the time, Jahiruddin used to oversee the case. At one stage Jahiruddin wanted to sell a part of Nirandra’s property to bear the expenses of the case. But Nirandra refused. As a result he conspired to take the land from his grandmother. Nirandra claimed that in that conspiracy Jahiruddin used Afaz, the local chief. Nirandra could not afford to keep a lawyer, and he urged ASK to have him released from jail as he was not guilty of the charges against him.

ASK appealed to the Bangladesh Paribash O Manobadhikar Unnayan Sangsha, a legal aid support group, and urged several lawyers belonging to the local Bar to arrange for Nirandra’s release. The suspect was finally granted bail on 26 November 1998, and his case is pending.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA980115
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Administration of justice,