The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court Wednesday issued warrants of arrest against five functionaries of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) following a defamation case filed by Executive Chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI) Mahmudur Rahman on the day.
The accused CPD functionaries are -- Chairman Rehman Sobhan, Executive Director Debapriya Bhattachariya and trustee board members Syed Manzur Elahi, M Syeduzzaman and Laila Kabir.
Metropolitan Magistrate Syed Md Mozibul Hoque issued the warrants of arrest against the accused after hearing the case.
The court fixed September 14 for the accused to appear before it. The five CPD functionaries will appear before the court today (Thursday). Eminent lawyer Dr. Zahir will deal with the case on behalf of the CPD members.
Rahman, who is also the adviser to the ministry of energy, filed the case Wednesday for terming him 'collaborator' as published in some national dailies.
In his complaint, Mahmudur Rahman stated that the accusations -- a 'collaborator', a 'rajakar' etc. -- made against him by the CPD functionaries at a press conference on August 8 were false and libelous.
Rahman said he will file another case -- money (civil) suit- within two days against the trustees of the CPD. The BoI chief accused Syed Monzur Elahi and four other co-accused of making objectionable comments.
When asked about the case, Syed Monzur Elahi said: "I am yet not aware of the details of the case and the charges brought against me."
He, however, denied making any comment on the BoI chief as being a collaborator.
"We will take decisions after getting relevant papers and details of the charges," he said.
Responding to the newsmen queries -- whether CPD will file a counter case -- CPD Executive director Debapriya said the CPD is not considering to take any legal actions as they are yet to receive any official documents from the court.
Newsmen, he said, have the recorded tape of the CPD press conference with them to verify what the CPD functionaries said Tuesday.
Laila Kabir echoed the same, saying 'I have heard about the case just now."
She said the CPD arranged the press briefing to protest the comments of the BoI chief made Sunday in the city.
Syeduzzaman expressed his reaction, saying: 'We are surprised!'
Citing the news published in some newspapers, the BoI executive chairman said the CPD functionaries belittled him by terming him a collaborator.
"As the BoI chief, I represent the country's image aboard, I think such comment tentamounts to character assassination," Rahman said.
When asked why he filed case on the basis of reports published in newspapers, Rahman said the CPD personnel got six to seven hours' time for clarifying the published news if they thought the same were misinterpreted.
He said the government is not involved with this case, as it is his personal case, which he filed as an ordinary citizen.
"The Executive Director of CPD termed my motherland a bad product, which is very disappointing," he said.
Mahmudur Rahman further said he refused to appear at Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examinations in 1971 from Dhaka College under the then Pakistani government and in spite of that, the CPD functionaries termed him a "collaborator" which "is false and baseless".
Rahman has appointed Barrister Rafiqul Islam as his lawyer.
UNB adds: CPD executive director Dr Debapriya Bhattachariya told the reporters that they would decide their next course of action only after they get the official documents of the case.
"I've heard from people about the case but don't know the charges yet," he said adding that the CPD is not planning to file any counter-case.
Replying to a question whether it is a planned move of the government against CPD, Debapriya said it is not the government but Mahmudur Rahman who filed the case. "There is no involvement of the government."
CPD trustee and former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, who is also an accused in the case, said he is surprised over the move by Mahmudur Rahman.
"There may be a debate on information and data but I cannot believe that the debate can prompt one to go to court," he said adding that they would take legal help on the matter.
CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan said he does not know anything about the case yet and declined to make any comment on it.