On August 5, 2015, a man was arrested because five cheques he gave to his business partner bounced -- a criminal offence as per the law. This offence carries one year's jail term as punishment.
But the man got his release order yesterday, four and a half years after serving in jail.
The High Court yesterday directed the authorities to release Rezaul Kabir Sweet, a 59-year-old man from Kolapra village in Munshiganj.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman passed the order after Rezaul filed a writ petition.
Petitioner's lawyer Shishir Monir told The Daily Star that his client was arrested in a cheque dishonour case involving Tk 23.5 lakh. His business partner Mojibur Rahman filed the case.
"They used to do real estate business together. Rezaul had given five cheques amounting to Tk 23.5 lakh. All the cheques bounced, and the complainant filed the case on October 30, 2013," said the lawyer.
He was arrested two years later, and the chief metropolitan magistrate's court of Dhaka sent him to jail, he added.
And then there was a mix-up. His case was transferred to metropolitan sessions judge's court, and somehow the respective judge was under the impression that he was out on bail, said Monir.
The case was then shifted to the special judge's court-8 of Dhaka. Through a series of hearings, the judge observed that the defendant, who they assumed was out on bail, did not show up to the court, Monir described.
"And so they classified him as a fugitive, and gave a conviction in absentia."
On September 18, 2018, the special judge's court-8 convicted Rezaul and sentenced him to one year's imprisonment, the maximum possible punishment under the Negotiable Instruments Act.
When he was convicted, Rezaul had already spent three years in jail.
On August 6, 2019, he wrote to the jail authorities seeking his release, said the lawyer.
"The jail authorities then wrote to the court, stating that they have been keeping the man in jail for over four years."
Rezaul filed a writ petition with the HC on March 8 challenging the authorities' action to keep him in jail.
Following the petition, the HC bench yesterday also issued a rule asking the authorities to explain in four weeks why their action to keep Rezaul in the jail should not be declared illegal.
Home secretary, inspector general of police, judge of the special judge's court-8 of Dhaka, inspector general of prisons, jailer and senior jail supper of Kashimpur jail and plaintiff Mojibur have been made respondents, the lawyer added.