It is unfortunate that an innocent person is in jail in place of a real criminal, upon payment of money or by any other means.
The High Court (HC) made the oservation on Monday during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of Minu, imprisoned for three years instead of one Kulsumi, who was sentenced to life in prison by a lower court in a Chattogram murder case.
The HC has now ordered Minu released and Kulsumi the principal accused, arrested immediately.
The court also summoned the lawyers and lobbyists who had appealed to the HC for Kulsumi's bail, forging her signature. They have been ordered to appear in court on 28 June and give a satisfactory explanation.
A virtual HC bench, comprising Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Mohiuddin Shamim, issued the order after hearing Minu's plea.
Supreme Court lawyer, Advocate Md Shishir Monir, represented Minu at the hearing, while Deputy Attorney General, Dr Md Bashir Ullah, moved on behalf of the state.
Kohinoor Begum, a garment factory worker, was killed on 9 July, 2006, in Chattogram's Rahmatganj in a dispute over a mobile phone. Kulsumi, daughter of Anu Mia of Gaursthan Majherpara village in Lohagara upazila pf Chattogram, was arrested in the case on October 26, 2007.
Kulsumi, wife of Saleh Ahmed, lives in Dr Sayeed's Rahmatganj home under Kotwali police station of the port city.
Kulsumi was released from jail on February 18, 2009, when a Chattogram court granted her bail. Following trial on November 30, 2017, the Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court of Chattogram sentenced Kulsumi to life imprisonment, and one more year in prison if she failed to pay a fine of Tk50,000. Kulsumi was absent in court on the day the verdict was given and the court declared her a fugitive.
After that, Kulsumi found Minu in a slum in the port city. Minu was living in the slum with her three children after her husband Babul, a push van driver, died in a road accident.
Minu, daughter of Md Solaiman and Saleha Begum, is from Mainamati in Cumilla. Her father's home is in Jafrabad of Sitakunda upazila in Chattogram.
Under these circumstances, Kulsumi offered to support Minu and her children. In return, Minu was told to appear in court for a day. She was promised bail if she appeared in court and Minu agreed accordingly. On 12 June, 2018, she surrendered to a Chattogram court as Kulsumi and was then sent to jail.
Ever since, Minu has been in prison. Meanwhile, Kulsumi herself appealed to the HC in 2019 against the lower court's sentence. Documents of the case were sent to the HC on 12 June, 2019 and the case is pending in the HC.
It is learned that Kulsumi looked after Minu's children for the first few months after the latter was sent to jail. But after few months, Kulsumi stopped supporting Minu's family. Meanwhile, Minu continued serving a jail term instead of Kulsumi, who did not look for Minu anymore.
Minu disclosed the entire matter to the jail authorities. Although no one listened to her at first, on 18 March last, Senior Jail Superintendent of Chattogram Central Jail, Md Shafiqul Islam Khan, came to know the wrongful imprisonment of Minu instead of Kulsumi.
He then investigated the matter himself. The jail authorities did not find any resemblance between Kulsumi's picture and Minu's picture, as kept in Chattogram jail documents.
On 21 March, Shafiqul Islam Khan raised the issue before the Chattogram court which gave the initial sentence and verdict. Minu was then produced before the court on the next day, on 22 March.
Minu told the court, "Three years ago, a woman named Morzina called me from my house to give me pulses and rice and put me in jail. I used to live in my home in a slum."
The Chattogram court recorded Minu's case and sent the documents to the HC for required order on 23 March. The next day, on 24 March, the documents reached the HC. At this point, lawyer Shishir Monir brought the matter to the notice of the HC on 31 March.