Arif Hossain from Rajapur, Jhalokathi appeared before the Cyber Tribunal (Bangladesh) on August 9. He had to wait on the court premises for a long time before the court proceedings started in the second half of the day.
Another accused, Kamruzzaman from Khagrachhari, also came to attend a hearing at the Cyber Tribunal for a case filed against him in 2017. Like Arif and Kamruzzaman, many others who come to Dhaka for a hearing at the tribunal have to wait for an inordinately long period of time.
The justice-seekers who come to Dhaka from different parts of the country have to wait for days at a stretch for dates of hearing of their cases at the Cyber Tribunal. The justice-seekers do not even get a seat while waiting because there is no separate room for the cyber tribunal.
On many occasions, witnesses leave without giving depositions. Female litigants suffer the most because the majority of the cases are related to the online harassment of women.
The Cyber Tribunal came into being on July 28, 2013 with three cases. Even though six years have passed since then, it still doesn’t have a separate courtroom.
The government has set up the only Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka to try cyber-crime-related cases. Litigants suffer immensely in trying to get justice in such cases because of a lack of enough tribunals to try cases across the country. Cyber-crime cases increased many fold in the last six years, but there is still only one tribunal to deal with them.
The chamber of the tribunal’s judge is on the sixth floor of the Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s court building.
The tribunal starts its activities after the proceedings of the regular court of Dhaka Special Judge Court-4 ends.
The proceedings of the Cyber Tribunal get suspended on days when the Special Judge’s Court-4 remains busy for an extended period.
So far three judges have directed the tribunal since 2013. Now a sessions judge functions as a judge of the tribunal.
The first judge of the tribunal was Md KM Shamsul Alam. After his retirement Md Saiful Islam worked as a judge in the tribunal. Mohammad As-Shams Joglul Hossain has been working in the tribunal since April 22 last year.
In 2013, three cases were filed under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for trial at the tribunal. Then 33 cases were filed in 2014, 152 cases in 2015, 233 cases in 2016, 568 cases in 2017, 676 cases in 2018, and till June 24, a total of 331 cases have been filed under the ICT Act.
Only 480 cases have been settled out of the total of 1999 cases filed.
Shamim Al Mamun, a bench assistant (peshkar) of the Cyber Tribunal confirmed the number of cases.
Advocate Nazrul Islam Shamim, the special public prosecutor of the Cyber Tribunal, said that “Most of cybercrime related cases were filed for uploading indecent pictures of women on social media, hurting religious sentiment, making indecent remarks about important people, posting distorted pictures of political leaders, and publishing false and defamatory reports in the media.”
Law practitioners at the court say that the government needs to set up more cyber tribunals at divisional cities across the country to try cyber-crime-related cases with a view to providing hassle-free legal services to the people.