Dhaka University teacher Prof Asif Nazrul has been sued under section 57 of the ICT Act over a Facebook post, which the teacher claimed was uploaded from a fake account.
Syed Asaduzzaman Minar, nephew of Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, filed a complaint with Madaripur Sadar Police Station on Thursday, stating that thousands of indecent and disrespectful comments were made on the Facebook post over alleged irregularities in recruitment at Chittagong Port, mocking the minister.
“We recorded the complaint as a case under section 57 of the ICT Act on Sunday night after getting approval from the Police Headquarters in Dhaka,” Quamrul Hasan, officer-in-charge of Madaripur Sadar Police Station, told The Daily Star last night.
Asif, a law teacher, said he was shocked to learn that the PHQ gave approval to record the case.
He said he clarified the matter with evidence before some newspapers that the post was uploaded from a fake Facebook account. He on several occasions also warned people through his Facebook account about the fake one.
“I will definitely be able to prove my innocence at the court, but even before doing that I could be arrested anytime and get locked up for an indefinite period.
“This law is now being used against me by the shipping minister’s relatives only to cause harassment and suffering to me and my family,” the teacher told this correspondent.
Asif said the people behind the fake pages and those who filed the “false case” should instead be punished.
He called upon the law minister to repeal section 57 of the ICT Act immediately to save the innocents from the “wrath of influential people”.
Saheli Ferdous, assistant inspector general (media) at the PHQ, said she was unaware of the approval and filing of the case.
If the case was filed upon approval, it must have some merit, she said.
A police investigation into the case would prove if the Facebook post was uploaded from a fake account, the AIG added.
The Daily Star contacted two more top police officials concerned at the PHQ, but they refused to comment on the matter.
The case was filed amid growing demands from different quarters for repeal of section 57 of the ICT Act for its alleged misuse.
Some 300 cases were lodged under the section in the first seven months of this year. Over two dozen journalists were sued and several were arrested, according to statistics of the Cyber Tribunal.
Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque on August 2 instructed all police stations to consult the legal wing at the PHQ before registering any case under section 57.
According to sources at the Cyber Tribunal, among the cases filed under the ICT Act, about 90 percent were recorded under section 57 and a large number of the plaintiffs were from the ruling Awami League.
A defamation case was also filed against Asif on Thursday over the same Facebook post.
Faruk Khan, cousin of the shipping minister, filed the case stating that the DU teacher “willingly tarnished the image of the minister socially and politically by uploading the post”.