A mobile court cannot convict or sentence any arrestee or detainee, according to the full text of the High Court verdict that declared illegal the sentencing of a Tangail schoolboy by a mobile court.
The offence has to be taken into cognizance by a magistrate instantly on the spot. In that case a written complaint need not be filed with the magistrate, the court observed.
“There is no scope to convict a person under the [Mobile Court] Ain, 2009 who was apprehended or arrested or detained by the police prior to his trial that is before commencement of Mobile Court proceeding. And if anyone is convicted in the aforesaid manner, the whole proceeding of the mobile court will be vitiated and the order of conviction is illegal.
“The magistrate who is empowered for holding a mobile court under the Mobile Court Ain, 2009 must take cognizance of the alleged offence instantly at the spot provided the same has been committed or unfolded in his presence and the said magistrate is also empowered to convict the accused and award the prescribed sentence to him if he pleads guilty,” said an HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das.
“It is true that Mobile Court Ain, 2009 provides for appeal against the judgment and order of conviction before the district magistrate. But if mala fide is found on the face of the record in a mobile court proceeding and the conviction is 'no-est' in the eye of law, then this court [HC] has every jurisdiction to interfere with the matter exercising power under Article 102 of the constitution.”
Delivering the verdict on a suomoto rule, the HC judges on October 18 declared illegal a mobile court verdict that sentenced Sabbir Shikder, a ninth-grader of Protima Bonki Public High School in Sakhipur, to two years in prison allegedly for threatening a local ruling party lawmaker via Facebook.
The court also directed the secretaries of public administration and home ministries and the inspector general of police to withdraw UNO Mohammad Rafiqul Islam and OC Mohammad Maksudul Alam from Sakhipur and place them outside Dhaka division “for a fair investigation”.
The HC acquitted Sabbir of the charges and directed the chief judicial magistrate of Tangail to launch a judicial enquiry based on Sabbir's statement submitted to it on September 27.
Following two petitions filed by Rafiqul and Maksudul, the Supreme Court chamber judge on October 26 stayed for four weeks a section of the HC verdict that ordered the government to transfer them.
Sabbir was sentenced to two years in jail by the mobile court led by UNO Rafiqul reportedly under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for threatening the lawmaker via Facebook.
UNO Rafiqul passed the order as an executive magistrate a day after police detained the boy in connection with a general diary filed by Anupam, lawmaker of Tangail-8 (Basail-Sakhipur) constituency.
The Daily Star on September 20 published a report under the headline “Boy jailed for FB comment about MP”.
Regarding the report, the HC in the full judgment said, “These show the high journalistic etiquette maintained by the 'Daily Star' as well as the local correspondent in preparing and publishing the report. Further, considering the facts that the local correspondent made contacts on several occasions to ensure that he obtained the correct information and also took great care and showed commendable caution in reporting the news”.