The High Court has ordered punitive action against a number of Barisal public officials including a police officer-in-charge, a senior judicial magistrate and a social services officer, due to their negligence that got four kids arrested and subsequently landed them in a child detention centre on false rape charges.
A virtual bench of Justice Md Mojibur Rahman Mia and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Molla gave the order on Sunday.
The court ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take departmental action against eight policemen of Barisal's Bakerganj police station, including officer-in-charge (OC) Abul Kalam, who arrested the children.
The HC stripped Senior Judicial Magistrate Enayet Ullah of judicial power, for disposing of the criminal cases as it was he ordered the four children to be sent to a child rehabilitation centre, which was beyond his jurisdiction.
The court also ordered departmental action against a social service officer for negligence of duty. The concerned authorities have been instructed to issue a circular to notify police about the Children's Act.
On 4 October last year, the father of a six-year-old girl filed a rape case against four playmates of his daughter who were subsequently arrested.
The families and relatives of the children said the four boys were eight to nine years of age, though their ages were mentioned as 10-11 in the case. There say there was no incident of rape. Rather they were being harassed by the lawsuit over land disputes.
A private television channel ran a news report about the incident. On 8 October last year, the High Court (HC) issued a "suo motu" (on its own motion) after Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Abdul Halim brought the news to the attention of the court.
At the same time, the HC asked the four children, their guardians, the senior judicial magistrate, the Officer in Charge (OC), the children's affairs officer of the police station and the district probation officer, to appear in court on 11 October.
The concerned individuals appeared in court and made unconditional apologies. The HC on that day adjourned the case and asked for the four children to be returned home safely.
The HC announced the verdict in the case on Sunday after a long hearing on the earlier rule. Barrister Abdul Halim stood for the rule with lawyer Jamiul Haque Faisal.