Speedy Trial Tribunal and Code

Speedy Trial Tribunal and Code For speedy trial of law and order disruptive crimes, Speedy Trial Courts have been constituted by the government with Metropolitan magistrates/judicial magistrates having first class power under section 8 of the Law and Order Disruptive Crimes (Speedy Trial) Act 2002. Similarly for speedy trial of certain offences of murder, rape, fire arms, explosives and narcotics Speedy Trial Tribunals (STT) have been constituted with the officers of the rank of district judges by the government under section 4 of the Speedy Trial Tribunal Act, 2002.

The nature of the offences specified in the Law and Order Disruptive Crimes (Speedy Trial) Act 2002 appears to be a reflection of the law and order situation in the country in 2002. All the offences listed in the law relate to extortion by way of show of force or by threat, obstruction to transport and communication, wilful damage to vehicles, public or private property, obstruction to public tender for purchase of goods and services, and preventing directly or indirectly by force or threat any employee of government or of any statutory body or organisation from attending office etc.

Other features of the law include overriding nature of the law i.e the provisions of the law to take precedence over any other law, rigorous imprisonment upto a minimum of two years and maximum of five years, punishment of abettors, and persons filing false and baseless cases, seizure of equipment, arms etc, forfeiture or return of the same to its lawful owner and payment of compensation by the convicted person to the affected government etc.

Still other important features are constitution of Speedy Trial Court, its jurisdiction, summary trial, precedence of trial, trial in absentia, requirement of completion of investigation and submission of report within a period of seven working days along with right to defense of the accused and completion of trial within thirty working days from the date of receipt of the report, procedure for bail, admissibility of photographs, film of the commission of offence or and tape or disk of recorded conversation of the offenders as evidence.

Under the Speedy Trial Tribunal (STT) Act 2002 the authority to establish one or more STTs is vested in the government which is also empowered to determine its territorial jurisdiction and authority to transfer cases pending in other courts of law in public interest. Such transferable cases include offences relating to murder, rape, possession of illegal arms, explosives and drugs. Thus it is seen that the original scope of offences were further expanded.

The law also provides for summary trial of all offences except those involving capital punishment, imprisonment for life or imprisonment exceeding seven years. Each STT has to complete trial within a period of ninety working days with provision of extension upto thirty working days and further extension of fifteen working days. In such cases of extension, a STT has to record its reasons in writing and inform the Supreme Court including the government.

Like the earlier law of 10 April 2002, this law also makes photographs, tape recorded conversations etc admissible in evidence. However, unlike the earlier law, this law specifically stipulates that no STT shall punish an offender only on the basis of such evidence adduced before the court. This appears to be a salutary provision in that it relies on the totality of evidence rather than derived from technological advancement. [AMM Shawkat Ali]

References Offences relating to maintenance of law and order (Speedy Trial) Act 2002, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Act 28 of 2002, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Gazette (Extraordinary), 1 December 2002.