HC asks Prothom Alo to pay Tk 1 lakh to her

Staff Correspondent

The High Court on Tuesday directed the Prothom-Alo authorities to pay within one month Tk one lakh to Hamida Akhter, a worker of Apex Footwear, for defaming her ‘personal and social image’ by publishing a ‘false report’ that she had given birth to a baby in company’s factory toilet after she was denied maternity leave.
A bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman also said that the Apex Footwear authorities were at liberty to take legal action against Prothom Alo for the damage its report had caused to the company’s reputation.
The court issued the directives while disposing of a suo moto rule it had issued on May 10 asking Apex managing director Syed Nasim Manzur, its manager (admin) Kazi Md Abdul Aziz and assistant supervisor Ratan Chandra Rabi Das to explain the incident of Hamida giving birth to her baby in a toilet of Apex factory after she was denied maternity leave.
The suo moto rule was prompted by Prothom Alo’s report published on May 9 about the Apex worker giving birth in the factory toilet.
In separate affidavits submitted to the court on Sunday, the Apex officials described the Prothom Alo report as ‘misleading, motivated and false’ and said it was published with the ‘ulterior motive’ to serve the interests of vested quarters.
They informed the court that Hamida, a junior lasting operator of Apex factory at Harinhati, Kaliakoir had in fact suffered a ‘miscarriage’ after fainting in the factory toilet.
They also informed the court that with its report Prothom Alo published the photograph of a one week old non-Bangali baby and not of the three or four month old foetus miscarried by the Apex worker.
They said that the report and the accompanying photograph were published by the daily to mislead its readers.
A three or for month old foetus does not even take the shape of a baby, they said.
Responding to the orders from the HC, the Apex officials in their affidavits explained that the company was not aware about Hamida Akhter’s pregnancy as she did not provide the information that she was carrying.
The affidavits quoted Hamida as telling a five-member probe committee of Apex led by the company’s deputy general manager Fazlil Bakey that her miscarriage was a sheer accident caused by menstruation problems she had been suffering for the past three or four months.
In their affidavits, the Apex officials informed the court that the managing editor of Prothom Ali in a letter apologized to the Apex Footwear chairman Syed Manzur Elahi for the inadvertent report.
A government inquiry report submitted to the court over the incident also concurred with the accounts provided by the Apex officials in their affidavits.
Supreme Court lawyer Md Asaduzzaman appeared for the Apex officials.

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