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No to Partisan Prosecution

Banglar Bir

Mar 19, 2006
No to Partisan Prosecution
SAM Staff, July 28, 2017

Law Minister Anisul Huq. Star file photo
The government has decided in principle to launch a permanent prosecution service with professional lawyers, by abolishing the long-standing practice of appointing partisan people as public prosecutors.

“An independent prosecution service will be introduced in phases. We are considering empowering the Judicial Service Commission to make the appointments,” law Minister Anisul Huq told journalists after emerging from a session of the DC conference at the Cabinet Division on Thursday.

The government is now assessing the cost as well as the size of the manpower needed, law Secretary ASSM Zahirul Haque Dulal told The Daily Star when contacted.

At present, there are some 4,000 public prosecutors as well as additional and assistant prosecutors and government pleaders, according to the law ministry.

In case of a crime, it is the responsibility of the state to punish the offender, which depends largely on the performance of the public prosecutors who represent the state in lower courts. But because of their poor performance, only 25 to 30 percent cases see conviction, legal experts say.

On the other hand, government pleaders pursue civil cases before lower courts across the country.

Whenever a political party forms the government, all prosecutors and pleaders appointed by the previous administration are replaced by a new group.

In the appointments, loyalty to the ruling party rather than efficiency gets priority.

The lack of an effective procedure to screen and appoint prosecutors sometimes creates embarrassing situations. In June 2007 for example, a lawyer accused of a murder was appointed public prosecutor in Naogaon district. He was appointed by the district magistrate with the law ministry’s approval.

On July 5, 2015, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha himself decried the existing system of appointing ruling party men as public prosecutors as well as the faulty investigation by police. He also spoke about their poor knowledge about criminal laws.

“There is shortcoming not only in investigation, but also in prosecution as the public prosecutors do not perform their duties properly,” he said.

Against this backdrop, the government has moved to introduce the permanent prosecution system, which many countries, including India and the UK, already have.

Two former law ministers Moudud Ahmed and Shafique Ahmed, who had tried to introduce the system, welcomed the government decision.


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