Appellate Division says Qumrunnahar’s decision on bail signals ‘bad intent’

The Appellate Division says Judge Musammat Qumrunnahar’s decision to grant bail to a suspect despite a stay on the bail from a higher court signals ‘bad intent’.

Published : 25 Nov 2021, 06:09 AM
Updated : 25 Nov 2021, 06:09 AM

The decision was made by a five-member appellate bench led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on Nov 22. The full decision was published on the Supreme Court’s website on Wednesday night.

In a verdict on Nov 11, Qumrunnahar acquitted Shafat Ahmed, the son of an Apan Jewellers co-owner, and four others on charges of raping two university students at the Raintree hotel in Dhaka’s Banani in 2017.

But it was her oral observation to law enforcers, urging them not to take a rape case if 72 hours had passed since the incident, that drew the most controversy. The observation was not included in the written verdict.

On Nov 14, the Supreme Court suspended the judge’s judicial powers, and sent a letter to the law ministry instructing that she be reassigned from her court to its Law and Justice Division.

Amid this scrutiny it emerged that, on Oct 14, 2020, the Dhaka Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-5 judge had granted bail to a suspect Aslam Shikder in a rape case despite a stay ordered on the bail by the chamber judge at the Supreme Court. The state had then appealed that decision with the High Court.

On Nov 22, Judge Qumrunnahar appeared before the appellate bench to provide her explanation for the decision. She told the bench she had not known about the stay order.

When the bench pointed out that a copy of the chamber judge’s decision was included among the bail documents at the time of the hearing and that a previous judge had denied bail in the case five times, Qumrunnahar confessed that she had not properly looked over the previous documents and that it was her mistake.

“We find from the records of the Tribunal that Ms Musammat Qumrunnahar’s predecessor refused the bail applications of the accused on five occasions,” the Supreme Court bench said in its decision.

“Ms Musammat Qumrunnahar’s intentional oversight to see the entire records of the case indicates bad intention.”

The bench found that Judge Qumrunnahar had violated the orders of the Supreme Court and decreed that she was ‘not fit to preside over any criminal matters’.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher