B`desh SC clears way for publication of banned oppn mouthpiece
Last Updated: Sunday, July 18, 2010, 21:56
Dhaka: Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Sunday allowed re-publication of an opposition mouthpiece overturning a government plea a month after it was banned, sparking wide criticism across the country.

A full bench of the highest Appellate Division of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Mohammed Fazlul Karim issued a ruling upholding an earlier High Court order staying for three months the government decision to scrap the declaration of Amar Desh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government last month proscribed the declaration of the daily, known as the mouthpiece of ex-premier Khaleda Zia's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, saying it was being published "without a publisher" defying the Press Act.

"With this (apex court) decision) there is no bar on the re-publication of the Amar Desh," Moudud Ahmed, a counsel of the newspaper, told reporters.

But Additional Attorney General M K Rahman, who stood for the government in the hearing, said "the Appellate Division has given no directives about resuming publication of the daily".

"It will not be appropriate to resume publication in their current state as the newspaper current does not have a legal publisher," he said.

The journalists of the newspaper said they would go for its re-publication from tomorrow.

"Your will see again the newspaper hitting the newsstand from tomorrow," chief reporter of the Desh told PTI.

The proscription of the newspaper came as its previous publisher Hashmat Ali filed a case alleging its acting editor Mahmudur Rahman became the owner of the daily through fraudulence while he himself was no more the publisher of the newspaper.

Former energy advisor to Zia's past BNP-led government, Rahman took over the paper's management in 2008 and on September 3, 2009, Mahmudur filed an application with the district magistrate to become the publisher.

But police arrested Rahman on a "fraudulence" charge following a night long siege at the Desh office in Dhaka hours after the local administrative chief and district magistrate ordered the proscription on June 1.

Under a magistrate court order Rahman was subsequently remanded in eight days to police custody to be quizzed in another two cases, filed later, including a sedition charge.

On June 10, the High Court had stayed for three months the government decision to cancel the newspaper's declaration alongside a lower court order rejecting Rahman's application to become the publisher.

The ban of Desh and Rahman's arrest, however, sparked wide criticism as protests were underway against the government decision with rights groups and journalist unions calling it an attack on media freedom while the US and Britain issued statements expressing their concerns.


First Published: Sunday, July 18, 2010, 21:56

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