The High Court has ruled that it is 'unconstitutional' to control the right to freedom of movement of a citizen at the whim of an individual or an authority.
The court gave this observation in the full verdict on a writ petition filed by Ataur Rahman of Narsingdi, challenging the ACC's banning any person who is charged in a corruption case, from going abroad.
On 16 March, a HC bench observed that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has to take permission from a special judge court to impose a travel ban on suspects or persons accused of corruption.
The 12 page full verdict was published on the Supreme Court website on Sunday.
In the observation of the verdict, the court said the fact is that in the search or investigation stage, many suspects or accused are leaving the country on various pretexts. Later, it is no longer possible to bring them to book.
In view of these realities, it has become necessary to enact laws or regulations to prevent any persons who are involved in corruption or money laundering, or any other cases, from leaving the country at the stage of investigation.
The court said that at present there is no specific law or rule against suspects or persons accused in corruption allegations or cases, that can ban them from leaving the country.
In the verdict, the court said a specific law or rule needs to be formulated to this effect soon. It noted that the special judges' courts concerned, not the ACC, will decide whether corruption suspects or persons accused can go abroad, until a law is enacted to that effect.
"It hopes that the Anti-Corruption Commission and the ministries concerned will take necessary steps in this regard," the HC bench said.
In that law or rule, in addition to banning the suspect, the reason for barring him from leaving the country is to inform him as soon as possible, giving the aggrieved person the opportunity to object to the action taken against him. Imposing such restrictions on anyone indefinitely is unconstitutional and inhumane. So it would be fair to set a deadline, the court also said.
However, the Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division on 28 March upheld the High Court verdict, not responding to the petition filed by the ACC seeking stay on it.
The court also sent the ACC's plea to the full bench hearing at the Appellate Division headed by the Chief Justice on 5 April.
According to the case statement, the ACC served a notice to Ataur Rahman of Narsingdi on 24 August, 2020, asking him to submit his wealth statement to the commission. He submitted the statement on 22 October. Then, the anti-graft body started an inquiry into his wealth.
Later on 20 December 2020, the commission sent a letter to the special branch of police to bar Ataur from going to Sweden.
Ataur Rahman alias Sweden Ataur filed a writ petition challenging the ACC's action to restrain him from going abroad as a graft allegation against him was being inquired.
Later on 4 February, the High Court issued a rule after hearing the petition.