High Court asks govt to include editors in warrant of precedence

by Smriti Sen Gupta

The High Division Bench of Bangladesh Supreme court comprising Justice Ashfaqul Islam, and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das on April 3, 2017 issued a rule asking the cabinet secretary to explain in four weeks why should not be directed to include editors of national newspapers in the warrant of precedence for their role in promoting good governance in the state and society.

The cabinet secretary was also asked to show causes why non-inclusion of editors in the protocol list which is used for all government purposes, including ceremonial occasions, should not be declared illegal.

While we express our profound gratitude to Justice Ashfaqul Islam, and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das for very kindly issuing the aforesaid rule, we want to draw their precious attention to the fact that currently government officers starting from below the rank of upazila nirbahi officer get division in jail either as under-trial or convicted prisoners. But unfortunately, editors of national newspapers (dailies and weeklies) do not get this privilege in the prison unless they move a writ petition with the apex court. This certainly is a serious insult to the media and the journalists in Bangladesh.

We want to draw the attention of Barrister Raghib Rauf Chowdhury, who moved the above petition with the High Court, to this matter.

Here we want to give an example. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of Weekly Blitz, a newspaper known at home and abroad has been in the profession of journalism since 1989. He has worked as the Bureau Chief of ITAR-TASS News agency State news agency of the Russian Federation; Special Correspondent of the New Nation; Special Correspondent of the daily Inqilab; CEO A-21 TV (the first private TV channel of Bangladesh) etc. He has been the editor of Weekly Blitz for last 13 plus years.

Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally known anti-militancy journalist, who has received many awards at home and abroad; and is the author of several books. His book had been translated in Italian language and published by Neftasia in Italy. Moreover, he has written in a large number of local and international newspapers and journals.

The sordid fact is, this eminent journalist and editor is serving rigorous imprisonment in Bangladesh since 2012 in a false sedition, treason, and blasphemy case; for the ‘crimes’ of confronting militancy, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, religious hatred; and for promoting interfaith harmony. But till date, he is serving the rigorous imprisonment as an ordinary convict prisoner.

May we hope, the above mentioned issues will be brought to the attention of the Apex Court and senior journalists and editors like Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury will get division in prison?