The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the authorities concerned to pay Tk100 crore to the owner of Moon Cinema Hall by August 18.
An Appellate Division bench led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order on Sunday.
The court also directed Attorney General Mahbubey Alam to take initiative for the registration of the properties of Moon Cinema Hall in the name of Freedom Fighters' Welfare Trust.
Fifth Amendment and fate of Moon Cinema
The Moon Cinema Hall, which was located on Wais Ghat Road in Old Dhaka, was owned by the Bangladesh Italian Marble Works Ltd. It was declared abandoned during the 1971 Liberation War.
Later, the cinema was handed over to the Freedom Fighters' Welfare Trust during the martial law regime between 1975 and 1979.
In 2000, the owner of Moon Cinema filed a writ petition, claiming that the declaration of the cinema as an abandoned property was unlawful.
It sought directives to the government to return the premises to their original owners. The petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the Fifth Amendment Act 1979, which validated Martial Law Proclamation Orders.
A verdict was reached on August 29, 2005 in the High Court, in which Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice ATM Fazle Kabir declared the Fifth Amendment Act 1979 unlawful and directed the government to return the Moon Cinema Hall to its original owners.
The then BNP-led government appealed to the Supreme Court and obtained a stay order on the High Court verdict. In 2009, the Awami League-led government withdrew the state’s appeal.
In May 2011, the Supreme Court declared the Fifth Amendment to the constitution unlawful and asked the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust to return the property of Moon Cinema Hall within three months.
The owner of Moon Cinema filed a contempt of court petition with the apex court on January 10, 2012 against the government authorities concerned and the trust for not executing its order.
On January 15, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the authorities concerned to assess the value of the land of the cinema and other establishments with the help of a skilled and neutral engineer.
Later on October 09, 2018, the Supreme Court directed the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust to pay Tk100 crore to the owner of Moon Cinema by December 9 of that year.
The attorney general represented the state during Sunday’s hearing while barrister Ajmalul Hossain was also present in the court.