A case file relating to the ownership of a ‘zamindar house’ situated near Bangla Bazar area in the old part of Dhaka has gone missing from the High Court (HC). The current value of the building is estimated to be around Tk 500 crore.
The case had been filed against ’some people’ for allegedly trying to occupy the house by faking documents of the heir to the ’real owner’ of the house. Following a prayer of the petitioner, the HC bench of Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Md Riaz Uddin Khan on February 6 directed the Supreme Court (SC) registrar to find the case file and submit a report by February 20.
The HC bench also asked the SC Registrar to submit a detailed report detailing the reasons why the file had gone missing in the first place. It was learned from the case document that Holding No. 38 of North Brook Hall Road under Sutrapur police station was a zamindar house, sprawling over five bighas of land. Dijendra Chandra Roy Chowdhury, former landlord of the Manikganj Dankoda estate, lived there.
Dijendra Chandra Roy Chowdhury left the country before the independence of Bangladesh. He went to India with all his family members.
In 1966, the government declared the house as enemy property and gave it on lease to a cooperative named Leasee Samabay Samity Ltd.
But one Ratan Roy Chowdhury claimed that he was the heir to the real owner of the house. Ratan Roy Chowdhury, a resident of Dholaipar under the Shyampur police station area, claimed he was the grandchild of Dijendra Chandra Roy Chowdhury.
But the authorities of the Leasee Samabay Samity Ltd. approached the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), alleging that Ratan Roy Chowdhury was trying to occupy the house by producing fake documents and projecting a fraud identity.
When this correspondent wanted to know the case history, advocate Lutffor Rahman Akhand, counsel for the Samabay Samity, said Ratan Roy Chowdhury and other accused persons had tried to occupy the building after producing fake documents and posing as the heir of the real owner.
A case was filed in this connection in 2005. The CID submitted the charge-sheet before the court in this connection.
In 2009, a Dhaka court had taken cognisance of the case against a number of accused persons including Ratan Roy Chowhdury.
After the lower court took cognisance of the case, six accused persons, including Ratan Roy Chowdhury, moved to the HC, challenging the legality of the lower court’s acceptance of the case. They also sought a stay order on the trial proceedings as well as the quashing of the case.
On February 17, 2010, the HC bench of Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah and Justice Abdur Razzak stayed the trial proceeding and issued a rule asking why the case should not be quashed.
However, during the rule hearing by the HC, all the appellants submitted a petition, saying they were not interested to continue the case.
Following their prayer, the HC bench of Justice Abdul Kakim and Justice Md Khasruzzaman, on August 21, 2011, dropped the case from the cause list of the bench.
However, on June 21, 2012, Ratan Roy Chowdhury filed a fresh petition before the HC, seeking a stay order on the trial proceedings and the quashing of the case. This time, Ratan Roy Chowdhury moved to the HC against the government.
Following his prayer, a HC bench stayed the trial proceedings and issued a rule asking the authorities concerned why the case should not be cancelled.
In the meantime, Leasee Samabay Samity Ltd. authorities filed a petition before the HC to become a party to the case. The HC, then, allowed the Samity to become a party.
The HC bench of Justice Abu Tarique and Justice Somendra Sarker heard the rule in 2017, but kept its judgment pending. But it could not deliver the verdict as the bench was reconstituted, changing it jurisdiction.
Later, the matter came up in the cause list of several courts at different times for the delivery of the verdict. But they could not deliver the verdict due to changes in their jurisdictions as well, the lawyers concerned said.
They also said Ratan Roy Chowdhury collected a certified copy of the HC order on May 03, 2018. And recently, it came to the notice of the court that the case file has gone missing from the HC.
When contacted, advocate Golam Abbas Chowdhury, counsel for Ratan Roy Chowdhury, declined to make any comment, saying he would not say anything without reading the case file.