Ayesha Siddiqa Minni, the wife of Barguna’s slain Rifat Sharif was produced in court for remand without any lawyer to defend her.
The incident sparked much criticism and outrage on social media and people familiar with the laws and Constitution are of the view that it was a violation of her constitutional and human rights.
Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers' Association President Advocate Fauzia Karim Feroze says that at least one lawyer should have defended her in court.
“It’s not right that someone is considered guilty just because a news report was published on them,” she told Bangla Tribune.
“After the case is started, witnesses will testify. A long legal procedure is due before Minni can be termed guilty,” she said.
She said that the very fact not a single lawyer stood for Minni is unacceptable.
Terming the incident as unfortunate and a violation of a citizen’s Constitutional right, rights organization Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh President Advocate Manzil Murshid said, “The law and Constitution dictates that a person is entitled to legal aid regardless of being guilty or innocent.”
He added that if the defendant cannot afford a legal counsel then the state is supposed to appoint one for him.
Minni’s father Mozammel Hossain Kishore, meanwhile, claimed that he had spoken to three lawyers who were supposed to defend his daughter but didn’t do so out of fear of influential locals who are reportedly involved with Rifat’s murder.
“Quite often influential people stop lawyers from defending a case against them,” Manzil Murshed said on Minni’s father’s claims.
“Since we already know that influential individuals are involved with the incident, it’s quite possible that the same happened with Minni,” he said.
He said that if such is the case, then the administration must look into the matter with utmost importance.
“Even the court can intervene and take steps against those who are behind the threats,” he said.
Bangladesh Bar Council member and Supreme Court senior lawyer ZI Khan Panna sees the whole incident as unfair.
“A lawyer should’ve stood for her even if Minni is guilty,” he said and added that Barguna Lawyers Association should have been forthcoming about it.
He said that it’s not only against a person’s human rights but also against the bar council and termed it as a weakness on the part of the lawyers association in Barguna.
Advocate Fauzia Karim Feroze, however, said that there is no legal provision to make a lawyer take a case if they don’t want to.
Meanwhile, Barguna Lawyers Association President Abdur Rahman Nantu claimed that no lawyers were contacted on behalf of Minni.
The association’s General Secretary Mahbubul Bari Aslam said that the defendants can appeal to the judge for a lawyer.
Minni was formally arrested on Tuesday (Jul 16) and then put on a five-day remand the next day over the broad daylight killing of her husband Rifat. However, the hearing for her remand took place without a counsel for her defense.
Rifat was hacked to death by criminals, in front of Minni, in broad daylight in the district town on Jun 26. She was the key witness in the murder case.
Till date police have arrested 15 people in the murder case while the prime accused Nayan Bond, was killed in a 'shootout' on Jul 2.