Dhaka, Feb 25 – The High Court on Sunday concluded the hearing on a bail petition filed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia challenging the lower court verdict that convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment to her in connection with Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.“Hearing on bail petition concluded. Order will be passed after arrival of case records from the lower court,” the HC bench comprising Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim said after hearing from both sides on the bail petition.
As per the previous scheduled the HC bench entered into the courtroom at 2.12pm, where hundreds of lawyers gathered in the courtroom that made chaotic situation inside the courtroom.
“It seems that both the parties were gathering the lawyers to create mental pressure on the judges of the court. It is very much needed to keep the environment of court quit and clam. We are leaving court for 10 minutes. Please create the friendly situation in the courtroom,” both the judges of the HC left the courtroom after giving the responsibility of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and secretary to stop the chaotic situation in the courtroom.
Some lawyers have gone outside the courtroom on request of SCBA president Joynul Abedin and its secretary Mahbub Uddin Khokan and created congenial atmosphere into the courtroom.
The court again entered into the courtroom at 2.31pm and asked the appellant lawyers to submit their argument.
Advocate AJ Mohammad Ali, one of the counsel for Khaleda Zia, told the court that Khaleda Zia have been languishing in jail since the lower court verdict.
“I have given all total background of her present and past situation in the petition. She was sentenced for short period of time. Usually, the HC gives bail to the appellant, if they got short time conviction,” he added.
Ali also said that besides that Khaleda’s health condition is not good. She is an elderly woman. She is now 73-year old. As per the section 497 of the Criminal Procedure of Code (CrPC), Khaleda can get bail on consideration of her age and health condition, Ali noted.
Opposing his submission, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told the court that Khaleda could not get bail under section 497 of CrPC as the counsels of BNP did not submit the medical certificate along with bail petition and age could not be considered for bail. Because, there was many prisoners in the country’s jail, whose age were more than 73, Alam said.
Mentioning two cases verdict of the Appellate Division, Alam said that the apex court discouraged the High Court Division to grant bail to the accused persons who was sentenced by the lower court for the short time.
But, the court replied that these two cases verdict of the Appellate Division were not substantiated in the case.
Then, the ACC lawyer said that the accused person has been incarcerated in jail for 2 months 5 days. The gravity of the offence should be considered before granting bail and short period of sentence is not ground for bail, Alam said.
Taking part in the hearing, Attorney General (AG) Mahbubey Alam told the court that it is an important and historic case. The money of orphans has been gone out. The summery of bank account and other documents were placed before Khaleda Zia. She was signed on it. She cannot avoid the responsibility over the matter, the AG said.
The chief law officer of the state also said that the defence lawyers tried every ways to delay the trial proceedings of the case, which was cleared in the details observations of the lower court verdict.
“If you grant the bail, the hearing on the appeal could not take place in five years,” AG said.
The court replied that if the both parties is keen to interest for holding hearing on the appeal, it is possible to hold the hearing within short time.
Then the AG said that the former president HM Ershad was in jail for long time in connection with corruption case. If Khaleda get bail in early time, it would be discrimination, he added.
“Is it any question,” the HC asked the AG.
It could be a matter of talk show. We could not conduct the judicial proceeding after taking into the consideration of the matter, the court added.
In replying to another point raised by AG, the HC said that it is very unfortunate for us that if the verdict goes in favour, it is historic verdict, if verdict goes against, it is a directory judgement.
AJ Mohammad Ali again submitted to the court saying that there were many instants of granting bail by the higher court only in one ground of elderly woman.
“The High Court has granted bail in 302 cases only in one ground of old woman in the meantime. I humbly prayed to the court to grant her bail in the case,” he noted.
Appeal hearing concluded and order will pass after arrival of case record, the HC bench said.
The same HC bench had on February 22 ordered the lower court to send the case records to this bench in 15 days.
On Thursday, Khaleda filed an appeal with the High Court challenging the special court’s verdict that sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in graft case and also seek bail in the case.
On February 8, Special Judge’s Court-5 of Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to five years’ rigorous imprisonment after it had found her and five others guilty in the graft case.
The court also sentenced Khaleda’s elder son Tarique Rahman, now the acting chairman of BNP, and four others to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment each, and fined them a total of Tk 2.10 crore, saying that all the six convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts.
The Anti-Corruption Commission had filed the case with Ramna Police Station in July 2008, accusing the six of misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans. – Staff Reporter
On February 8 last, the Dhaka Special Court-5 convicted the former Prime Minister and BNP chairperson and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
She was then sent to old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city.