Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government would amend the Digital Security Act if any inconsistency is found in the law.
"A six-member team – comprising representatives of several ministries including the law ministry, information and communication technology ministry and home affairs ministry – has been formed to look in the issue," he said in reply to a query from reporters at a views-exchange meeting organised by Overseas Correspondents Association Bangladesh (Ocab) at the National Press Club on Thursday.
The team is working with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) office to find out whether human rights are being violated due to the enforcement of this law, he said, adding, "If they find it, we will take the necessary steps to rectify it. We will take the necessary steps to rectify the law if they find any inconsistency."
Informing that the government has already formed a cell to inquire, before the filing of any case under the Digital Security Act, whether the allegation has the credibility to start the trial of the case, he said, "If the complaint is found substantial, only then, the case will go to court."
The law minister claimed that at present, no journalist is being arrested just after the filing of a DSA case. The allegation is verified at first.
Asked whether the government would issue any written instruction in this regard, he said all the police stations have been initially instructed not to arrest any journalist just after a case is filed. "So far I know, no journalist has been arrested in the last six months under the Digital Security Act."
The DSA has been enacted to prevent criminal offenses that occur digitally, it is not meant to curtail the freedom of the press, he said, adding that steps have been taken to stop the abuse of this law.
Nazrul Islam Mithu, president of the Dhaka Reporters Unity, and member secretary of Ocab, conducted the meeting, styled "Meet the Ocab", under the supervision of Qadir Kallol, BBC's correspondent and head of the convening committee of Ocab.
Senior journalist Farid Hossain, Anisur Rahman, managing editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, and other Ocab members were also present on the occasion.
In reply to a query over formation of Election Commission (EC), but it would not be appropriate to do it overnight, the law minister said, "The constitution has a provision to make law on EC formation, and we want to do it; but such an important legislation cannot be done in a hurry."
The law minister said, "Article 117 of the constitution instructs that the election commission will be constituted by the president. Before forming the last two election commissions, after consulting the registered political parties, it was decided that the EC would be formed through a search committee formed with members suggested by the political parties."
"The search committee would recommend 10 names, out of which five election commissioners including the CEC would be appointed by the president. The last two elections have been held under the ECs formed in this way," he said, adding, "But I also think that a law should be made."
Huq said, "Although the parliament session was held due to constitutional obligation, all the MPs could not attend it due to the onset of new coronavirus variant Omicron. In this context, it would not be right to pass a law on the Election Commission bypassing the parliament."
In reply to a query over BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's treatment abroad, the law minister said, "The government cannot violate the law. If the government does something, it would be as per the law. Khaleda Zia's relatives filed a plea, but the plea mentioned no specific section of law under which she could be released, conditionally or unconditionally.
The law minister said considering the plea they had filed, the government stayed her sentence through an executive order and released her on the condition that she would not be able to go abroad.