The High Court yesterday issued an injunction prohibiting electronic, print and social media, including Facebook and YouTube, from broadcasting and publishing statements, interviews and conversations of fugitive convicts and defendants on trial until at new order.
The court issued the order after a motion was filed to take necessary action against the authorities of Ekattor TV for airing an interview with fugitive defendant Proshanta Kumar Halder, popularly known as PK Halder.
He also ordered the TV station to submit video clips of the interview and conversations PK Halder had with the station on December 28 by January 10.
The channel aired an interview with PK Halder at 10:00 p.m. on December 28 and connected it to the Ekattor Journal talk show at 11:30 p.m. the same day. There, PK Halder refuted allegations of laundering huge sums of money overseas.
Yesterday, the HC Bench consisting of Judge Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Judge Ahmed Sohel issued the order after hearing a motion filed by Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan.
He asked this court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the authorities of Ekattor TV for airing PK Halder’s interview and bringing him on as a guest on the talk show.
In passing the order, the bench said freedom of speech is guaranteed by the republic’s constitution, but freedom is subject to certain reasonable restrictions.
The HC has also set January 10 for a hearing on the matter.
Attorney Khurshid submitted the petition yesterday morning.
In the petition, he said that PK Halder is accused of laundering a huge sum of money and is a fugitive in the eyes of the law as a lower court issued a warrant for his arrest on November 25 and the government and the ACC attempt to arrest him through Interpol.
During the motion hearing, the lawyer told the HC bench that the authorities of Ekattor TV showed audacity and disrespect to the HC in allowing PK Halder to speak on the TV show as a guest and airing his interview since a rule is pending against him.
He mentioned that another HC bench on January 7, 2015 ordered relevant authorities to stop publishing BNP leader Tarique Rahman’s statements in the media as he is a fugitive.
AKM Deputy Attorney General Amin Uddin Manik told the HC bench yesterday that there were serious repercussions as Ekattor TV treated PK Halder as a guest on the talk show.
Issuing a suomuto rule, the HC bench headed by Judge Md Nazrul Islam Talukder on November 18 wanted to know what steps had been taken to arrest PK Halder, who fled the country after allegedly embezzling around Tk 10,200 crore from some non-banking financial institutions. , and bring it home.
The court ordered relevant government and ACC authorities to explain the steps taken to arrest and bring him back.
In the settlement, the court also asked the authorities to show reasons why their inaction and failure to arrest and bring back PK Halder should not be declared unlawful.
On October 21 this year, another HC bench ordered law enforcement authorities to arrest PK Halder immediately upon his return.
According to Canadian media, PK Halder is currently staying in Toronto. He is a director of P&L Hal Holding Inc, a Canadian company.
In an investigation, Bangladesh Bank found that Tk 1,596 crore had been transferred from International Leasing and Financial Services (ILFSL) in breach of rules through 48 accounts of various organizations linked to directors and shareholders of the company, said bank officials.
PK Halder rose to prominence during anti-casino campaigns last year.
The ACC has opened an investigation into the involvement of 43 people, including PK Halder, in the illegal casino business.
The government banned him from traveling on October 3. But he manages to escape.
On January 8 this year, the anti-corruption body filed a lawsuit against PK Halder for illegally amassing wealth worth Tk 275 crore.