TIB faces 3 libel suits

Dhaka, Dec 26: Three top executives of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) including its trustee board Chairman M Hafizuddin Khan and Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman were sued in Chittagong and Comilla on charge of tarnishing the image of country’s the judiciary by releasing a survey report. After a daylong suspense, a Comilla court Sunday evening dismissed the defamation suit, while two courts in Chittagong asked the three TIB executives to appear before them on January 13 and 30.Warrants of arrest were ‘verbally’ issued against TIB trustee board chairman M Hafizuddin Khan, executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman and a senior fellow a couple of hours into filing of a defamation case with a cognizance court, the plaintiff and his lawyer claimed.
But there was no written order available throughout the day and the court of senior judicial magistrate dismissed the suit at around 7:00pm, plaintiff’s counsel Advocate Moinul Alam Moni said, quoting a court official. 
The suit was dismissed on the grounds that formalities for issuance of arrest warrant were not completed, the plaintiff’s lawyer said.

Advocate Tauhidur Rahman, a member of Comilla unit of Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum, the pro-BNP lawyers’ organisation, filed the case with the magistrate court 1 of Comilla around 11:00am, stating that the TIB’s household survey report rating the judiciary as the most corrupt service sector was untrue, motivated and part of a conspiracy to defame the judiciary.
Two similar defamation suits were also lodged with two Chittagong courts, which asked the three TIB executives to appear before them on January 13 and 30.
Our Comilla correspondent reports: In the case statement, plaintiff Advocate Tauhidur Rahman noted that certain quarter with ulterior motive had been plotting against the judiciary since its separation from the executive on November 1, 2007 and the latest household survey report, published by TIB, was just a part of the conspiracy.
The petitioner said the report tarnished his personal image since he is a stakeholder of the judiciary.
After a hearing, Senior Judicial Magistrate Saidur Rahman Gazi of the court took the case into cognizance and ‘verbally’ issued warrant of arrest against M Hafizuddin Khan, Dr Iftekharuzzaman and TIB senior fellow Wahid Alam.
“The magistrate in the open court at first gave verbal order for issuing warrants of arrest. We didn’t get written order. Later we heard the case had been dismissed. We will decide the next course of action after seeing the written copy of the order on Monday,” Advocate Tauhidur Rahman, the plaintiff, told The Independent.
Public Prosecutor (PP) Advocate Mujibur Rahman also said he had heard from APP Abul Kalam Tomal about issuance of arrest warrants. 
But secrecy was maintained since then, leading to suspense among the lawyers and all concerned. “At 7:00pm, the peshkar of the court informed me that the case was dismissed as necessary formalities for issuance of arrest warrants were not completed,” Advocate Moni said.
Our Staff Reporter from Chittagong reports, three top executives of TIB including its trustee board Chairman M Hafizuddin Khan and Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman were sued in two separate courts of Chittagong today on charges of tarnishing the image of country’s the judiciary by releasing an ‘untrue survey report.’  The other person facing the same charge is TIB’s senior fellow Mohammad Wahid Alam.
Advocate Mohammad Mohiuddin filed a defamation case with Metropolitan Magistrate Mahbubur Rahman’s court while Advocate Mohammad Mujibul Haque filed the other suit with Senior Judicial Magistrate Keshob Roy’s court.
The courts took the charges into cognizance and summoned the TIB executives before them for hearing on January 13 and 30. 
Plaintiff Advocate Mohiuddin in his case statement said the TIB in its recent study report did not provide correct information on the country’s judiciary. The survey report tarnished the image of the judiciary and lawyers of the country, he felt.
He also questioned the purpose of Bangladesh chapter of the global corruption watchdog and alleged that TIB in its report had wanted to brand the judiciary as a corruption hub by its ‘completely baseless and fabricated’ report.
Advocate Mujibul Haque also levelled the same charges against the TIB saying the said survey did not reflect the opinions of countrymen as a whole. Through the study report, the TIB has hatched a conspiracy to destroy the country’s judiciary system, the complainant felt.  The TIB released its survey report titled ‘Corruption in Service Sectors: National Household Survey 2010’ on December 23, revealing that surveyed people reported the judiciary to be the most corrupt among the service sectors in Bangladesh.
bdnews24.com adds: TIB board chairman M Hafizuddin Khan said the suits were ‘unfortunate’. “The next course of action will be decided in a meeting.”  In a reaction to the lawsuits, he said, “It (the TIB report) was not anyone’s private opinion. We only released the survey findings.”
The survey followed international standards, Hafizuddin claimed. “The TIB report has only revealed the ongoing corruption in the judiciary, the police and the administration.”
“TIB has nothing to do if someone feels hurt,” he added.
“Corruption in these sectors is nothing new. All the citizens of the country will say, if asked, how they are being suppressed by these institutions day after day.”
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said regarding the arrest warrants, “We believe in the rule of law and will deal with them through legal procedures.”
“Some person was hurt and filed a case, which does not mean that we are guilty,” he added.
About the arrest warrant, he told the agency that [TIB officials] were sure and unanimous about the report, which was based on mass opinion and experience and was conducted maintaining scientific standards.
Quoting a recent comment of Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) chairman Golam Rahman, Iftekharuzzaman said that corruption had been more acute in reality.
He claimed that the countrymen and mass media had thanked TIB for publishing the report.

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