HC asks govt why ban should not be illegal
The High Court yesterday issued rule on the government for its ban on the Ahmadiyya publications and stayed the ban for another three weeks.
The court asked the government to reply why the government order banning Ahmadiyya publications, sale, distribution and preservation would not be declared illegal for being violative to the constitution and fundamental rights of the community.
The respondents — the home secretary, senior assistant secretary of the home ministry, inspector general of police and deputy controller of Bangladesh Press (BG Press) — will have to reply to the court in two weeks.
A High Court Division bench comprising Justice MA Matin and Justice AFM Abdur Rahman passed the order after hearing yesterday.
Operatives of some anti-Ahmadiyya Islamist groups gathered in and around the courtroom during the hearing and told the press that they would file separate petitions for vacating the stay order and discharging the rule.
The HC vacation bench of Justice ABM Khairul Haque on December 21 stayed the ban until resumption of the court after winter vacation following a petition filed by six civil society groups and a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Bangladesh (AMJB).
The court had also ordered the government not to publish any gazette on the ban.
The petitioners are AK Rezaul Karim, an AMJB member and former deputy general manager of Bangladesh Bank, Odhikar, Sammilito Samajik Andolon, Ain O Salish Kendra, Karmojibi Nari, Jatiyo Ainjibi Parishad and Nijera Kori.
In his submission yesterday morning, counsel for the petitioners Dr Kamal Hossain said the Ahmadiyyas are living in the country for about a century and carrying out publication, sale and distribution of their publications for many years in Bangladesh without any disturbance and in full knowledge of the government.
No-one ever made any objection that the publications hurt religious sentiment of any community until certain vested interest groups led by Khatme Nabuwat started deliberately creating a climate of vilification against the Ahmadiyyas and got the order issued to fulfil their political gain, he said.
A vested quarter is involved in it, not all Muslims of the country, Dr Kamal said.
“Since the ban, Khatme Nabuawat and its affiliated bodies including Amra Dhakabashi have been carrying out attacks on the Ahmadiyya community in the name of implementation of the impugned order.”
The ban is an infringement on the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, the counsel maintained.
The government has to mention the words and sentences (of the Ahmadiyya publications) that resulted in the banning of the publications, Dr Kamal said, adding that the government did not even publish a gazette notification on the order.
He also mentioned that the government placed a report before the UN General Assembly on September 16, 2004 stating that the rights of the followers of all religions including the Ahmadiyya sect are well protected in Bangladesh.
During the hearing, ABM Nurul Islam, an advocate of the Supreme Court, urged the court again to appoint him the amicus curiae, but the court did not respond.
As he told the court that the government had already published gazette notification on the ban, the court, adjourning the hearing until noon, asked the attorney general’s office to inform the court about the matter.
When the hearing resumed at noon, Additional Attorney General Fida M Kamal told the court that he had received no instructions from the government on the matter.
The court later passed the stay order and issued the rule.
Advocate Salahuddin Ahmad, Barrister Sara Hossain and Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam assisted Dr Kamal Hossain while Assistant Attorney General Razik Al Jalil assisted Fida Kamal.
Abdul Hannan Al Hadi, a leader of the anti-Ahmadiyya group Hifazate Khatme Nabuwat Andolon, told The Daily Star after yesterday’s order, “We’re shocked at the court order. We’ll form a movement against it.”
“Islamist organisations will file two separate petitions against today’s order,” he said.
The government, on January 8, banned Ahmadiyya publications amid agitation by anti-Ahmadiyya zealots spearheaded by some leaders of Islamic Oikya Jote, a constituent of the ruling BNP-led alliance.