The High Court yesterday gave a time-limit to the government until January 15 next year to amend the Children Act, 2013 through removing the ambiguity over trying an adult accused under the law.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim passed the order after two secretaries of the government appeared before it and said that the government has taken steps to amend the law in line with its earlier directive.
During the proceedings, the court commented that Shishu Adalot (child court) has turned into the adults' court, as the adult accused are tried at the Shishu Adalot although the victim is a child.
Investigation officers, judges and lawyers concerned need to be trained before trial of the cases filed under a new law, said Justice Enayetur Rahim.
Citing an example of investigation into the money launderings, the justice also said some of the money laundering related cases are investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission while others are investigated by the police and anti-money laundering unit of Bangladesh Bank and therefore, a legal tangle has been created.
Mohammad Shahidul Haque, secretary to the legislative and parliamentary affairs division of the law ministry, and Zillar Rahman, secretary to the social welfare ministry, appeared before the HC bench as per its October 29 order.
The HC judges on October 29 summoned them to appear before them yesterday for explaining as to why the government did not amend the Children Act, 2013 despite ambiguity over trying an adult accused under the law.
The bench had earlier issued a rule asking the government to explain why a contempt of court rule should not be issued against it for not complying with its previous order.
Under the Children Act, 2013, only the Child Court is empowered to hold trial of an offence if a child is a victim or a witness in a case.
However, the law does not specify which court is supposed to hold the trial if an adult is accused in a case under this law.
Earlier, on August 14 last year during hearing four bail petitions, the HC had ordered secretaries to the law and justice; and legislative and parliamentary affairs divisions under the law ministry, and the social welfare ministry to explain the “ambiguity” in the Children Act, 2013 over holding of trial of an adult accused in a case filed under this law.
As they did not provide any explanation, the HC on October 31 last year asked the three secretaries of the government to explain in three weeks why a contempt of court rule should not be issued against them for not complying with its previous order issued last year on August 14.
As the secretaries did not respond to the order, the HC on October 15 this year issued the summons against the social welfare secretary on October 29 this year.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam appeared for the state.