B`desh SC clears way for publication of banned oppn mouthpiece

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.

Updated: Jul 18, 2010, 21:56 PM IST

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.

PTI