Eleven citizens, including university teachers and writers, have recently a sent a legal notice to the government, requesting it to scrap section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act.
On behalf of the citizens, Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua served the notices to the secretaries of the law, ICT and home ministries by post on Thursday (27 August).
In the notice, it was mentioned that legal procedures will be initiated if they do not reply within 24 hours, said the lawyer.
The 11 citizens include Dhaka University history teacher Ahmed Kamal, journalism department’s Gitiara Nasreen and Fahmidul Haq, international relations teachers Akmal Hossain amd Tanjim Uddin Khan, social science’s Samina Lutfa, Jahangirnagar University economics teacher Anu Mohammad, writer Rakhal Raha, Biplobi Workers’ Party General Secretary Saiful Haque, cultural activist Arup Rahi and Dhaka resident Abdus Salam.
Section 57 of the ICT Act conflicts with Article 39 of the Constitution, which ensures freedom of speech, said the notice.
On 26 August, a writ petition was filed and a legal notice was also served asking the government to scrap section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, amid severe criticisms regarding its alleged abuse by the law enforcement agencies.
The ICT Act was passed in 2006 and amended twice – in 2009 and 2013. In the latest amendment, offences under section 57 were made non-bailable and the maximum punishment was extended to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Offenders can be punished by minimum seven years imprisonment and the fine can be as high as Tk1 crore under the Act.
Debate over section 57 and demands for its cancellation began since the formulation of the Act. But the controversy intensified when veteran journalist and war crimes trial campaigner Probir Sikdar was arrested and sent to jail as he posted a status on Facebook, expressing fear that his life was in danger because of some influential persons.
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