High Court ruling: Allegations of Garo woman worker’s gang-rape

In response to the petition by ASK, BLAST, Naripokkho, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Jatiyo Adivasi Parishad, the High Court issued a rule on 25 May 2015 upon concerned authorities to explain:-

  1. Delay by the police in recording an FIR by a 22 year old Garo woman worker regarding allegations of her gang-rape on a moving microbus;
  2. Delay in sending her to the Victim Support Centre and for medical examination;

The Court also asked the authorities to explain why they should not compensate the victim woman worker and take disciplinary action against the police officers responsible for such delay. A Division Bench, comprising Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice Kazi Mohammad Ezarul Haque Akondo issued the Rule.

On 21 May 2015, a 21 years old Garo woman was allegedly gang-raped by 5 men in a running microbus in Dhaka City, after being picked up while waiting for a bus. She was sent for a medical examination to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital only on 23 May 2015. Protests by women’s rights, adivasi rights and human rights organisations have continued demanding urgent action and focused attention on delay in recording the FIR and delay in sending the victim for medical examination. 

The respondents are the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, the Inspector General of Police, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the Officers in Charge of Uttara, Khilkhet, Gulshan and Vatara police stations, and the Duty Officer of Vatara Police Station.
The petitioners argued that the police delay in responding to the complainant amounted to a breach of her fundamental rights to equality, non discrimination and equal protection under the law with respect to obtaining a prompt and effective remedy against violence. They noted the importance of ensuring a prompt and non-discriminatory response to recording of complaints and medical evidence collection, in the context of serious under reporting of incidents of violence against women and girls by victims.

They cited provisions of the Nari o Shishu Nirjaton Domon Ain 2000 (amended 2003) regarding the holding of medical examinations, and the rights to equality before the law, non-discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sex, caste and place of birth, and equal protection of the law under Articles 27, 28 and 31 of the Constitution, as well as the state’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to which Bangladesh is a party.

Advocates ZI Khan Panna, Sara Hossain, Masuda Rehana Rosy, Aynunnahar Lipi, Mehbuba Jui and Samiul Alam Sarkar appeared for the petitioners.  Advocate Amatul Karim, Deputy Attorney General, and Advocate Nusrat Jahan, Asst Attorney General, appeared for the State.