SC upholds Khaleda's bail: Other cases to debar her release

SC upholds Khaleda’s bail: Other cases to debar her release

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Dhaka, May 15 – In a major development, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld bail for BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.However, the apex court bail order does not allow the BNP chief Khaleda Zia to get released from jail immediately, as she is being held behind the bars in some other cases, both the prosecution and defence lawyers opined.
The High Court had on March 12 granted four months bail to former prime minister Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, in which she is currently serving a five-year jail term.
After dismissing two appeals filed by the government and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against the HC order, the Appellate Division also directed the High Court bench led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim to hear and dispose of Khaleda’s appeal against the sentence by July 31.
In a jam-packed courtroom, the four-judge bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain delivered the judgement saying “Both the appeals are dismissed.”
After the apex court order, Khaleda lawyer Advocate AJ Mohammad Ali sought the copy of the short order. But, the Supreme Court refused to deliver the short order saying that there was no previous record of delivering the copy of the short order by the apex court.
Ali told the court that they wanted the short order copy to submit before the authorities concerned so that the BNP chief could get released immediately from jail.
Attorney General (AG) Mahbubey Alam opposed his submission saying that there was no instance of giving short order copy by the top court.
The Supreme Court has also told Ali that there was no system in the Supreme Court rules to give the copy of the short order. So, your application for giving short order copy has been rejected. You will get copy of the apex court soon, the court said.
Then, Ali told the court that he has not come before it with group and came alone.
The court replied saying that it would not pass order after considering any group.
After the apex court’s bail order, AG Mahbubey Alam told reporters that there was no scope for Khaleda to delay the trial proceedings of the case in the High Court as the apex court directed the HC to dispose of the appeal by July 31.
“We will take preparation as soon as possible for the High Court hearing,” he said.
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan also told reporters that the Appellate Division has ordered the court to settle the appeal by July 31. “We must follow the order. We’ll request the High Court that we are getting ready to begin hearing the appeal,” he said.
Regarding her release from jail, the AG said, Khaleda cannot be released from jail following the apex court judgement if she is shown arrested in other cases. The home ministry knows regarding this. If she is arrested in other cases, she would be released, the AG said.
Asked to comment on Khaleda’s four-month bail, the chief law officer of the state said: “The four months will be counted from the day when the High Court granted her bail. And the days when the bail was stayed in the Appellate Division will be deducted from the four-month period.”
The HC granted her bail on March 12 and the chamber judge stayed the HC order on March 14, which is continued till yesterday. So, only two or three days will reduce from the four months of her bail, concern lawyers opined.
On the other hand, BNP lawyer Moudud Ahmed told reporters that BNP chief would have to take bail in a few other cases, despite the bail upheld by the Supreme Court as the government had already shown her arrested in few other cases.
However, he said that it would be easy for Khaleda Zia to secure bail from the lower court as the Appellate Division has upheld her bail. We’ll try hard to secure the bail as early as possible.
“We’ll try to secure [Khalda’s] bail quickly. We have to complete this following a legal process. Khaleda Zia will return among us after getting bail. She will come back soon,” he added.
Responding to a query, Moudud said currently Khaleda Zia is accused in seven cases filed with the lower courts. Among them, three are in Cumilla, two in Dhaka, and one each in Narail and Panchagarh. There are orders to show her arrested in those suits, he added.
Khaleda Zia is currently facing 36 cases. Among them, she have been shown arrested in seven cases in line with the lower court order, Advocate Sanaullah Miah told Journalists.
BNP legal affairs secretary Kayser Kamal, expressed satisfaction over the judgment and said that the BNP chief got justice from the Supreme Court.
He also hoped that Khaleda Zia will be released soon if the government doesn’t interfere. We will move before the court seeking her bail in other cases, in which she was being shown arrested in the meantime, he added.
The ACC had filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case with Ramna Police Station in July 2008, accusing the six persons including Khaleda Zia on charges of misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.
On February 8, the Dhaka Special Court-5 convicted the BNP chief and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust Fund embezzlement case. She was then sent to old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city.
The lower court also sentenced Khaleda’s elder son Tarique Rahman, now in the UK, and four others to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment each, and fined them a total of Tk 2.10 crore, saying that all the convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts.
Following the BNP chief moved against the lower court verdict, the HC had on March 12 granted Khaleda Zia four months’ bail on four legal grounds—her age, illness, short period of sentence and social status.
Later, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government challenged the High Court order, taking their appeals to the Appellate Division. Chamber judge has stayed the BNP chief bail and sent the matter to the full bench of the Supreme Court on March 14. Full bench of the Appellate Division has also stayed her bail till May 8 and finally the Supreme Court yesterday granted her bail after long hearing. – Staff Reporter

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