The High Court on Tuesday asked the finance ministry to publicise within ‘reasonable time’ the probe report on the recent share market scam in which thousands of investors lost their money and many small investors became bankrupt.
The High Court vacation bench of Justice Syed Mohammad Ziaul Karim and Justice ANM Bashir Ullah also asked the government to explain in two weeks why its failure to make public the report would not be declared illegal, and why it should not be directed to take action against the persons and companies named in the report.
The government was also asked to explain why it would not be directed to recover money from the manipulators’ bank accounts to compensate millions of small investors who became pauper due to the stock market manipulations.
The cabinet secretary, prime minister’s secretary, secretaries of the ministries of home, finance, banking division, Bangladesh Bank governor, the Securities and
Exchange Commission chairman, Dhaka Stock Exchange chief executive, Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner and Motijheel police station officer-in-charge were made respondents to the rule.
The court passed the order after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by five Supreme Court lawyers — Asaduzzaman Siddiqui, Sarwar Ahad, Aklas Uddin Bhuiyan, Mahabubur Rahman Khan and Mahbubul Islam — on behalf of the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
The petitioners’ counsel Manzill Murshid told the court that the share prices were suddenly increased and lowered by the group of individuals through conspiracy, manipulation and deliberate planning, which were clearly fraudulent activities under Section 17 of the Securities and Exchange Ordinance 1969 that said that no person shall sell or purchase any security directly or indirectly for the purpose of manipulating prices.
He also argued that the Securities and Exchange Commission had failed to prosecute or impose penalty on the persons and the companies who are liable for such manipulation as per the probe report.
Manzill submitted that after the market manipulation prompted serious unrest in the country, the government on January 25 appointed a three-member committee, headed by Khandkar Ibrahim Khaled, to investigate the share scam and submit a report in three months.
Accordingly, the committee submitted its report to finance minister AMA Muhith on April 7, who later told reporters about the contents and recommendations of the committee, but said the report would not be publicised right now as many influencial politicians were involved in it.
Referring to Section 6 of the Right to Information Act 2009, the petitioners said that it was the duty of the authorities concerned to publish all information, particularly of such vital public importance, by issuing a press release or in any other suitable manner.
Deputy attorney general Goutam Kumar Roy opposed to issuance of any rule, saying, ‘It is the primary investigation into the market debacle, not a conclusive one.’
Goutam also pleaded, ‘If the report, which is still on further scrutiny, is made public, further inquiry will be hampered.’
Representing Bangladesh Thai Aluminium Ltd (BD Thai), which has been mentioned along with some other companies for irregularities in the market, advocate Kazi Akhter Hamid told the court that his client would be affected if the report is made public.
The report, which people read in the newspapers, have no authentication as the government is yet to publish the content of the full report, he added.
Courtesy of New Age