Half an hour into ordering the arrests of three top Beximco Pharmaceuticals officials, including Salman F Rahman and his brother ASF Rahman, in the 1996 share market scam case today, a Dhaka court backtracked on its decision.
The arrest warrants were issued at 1:00pm, after the three did not turn up in court, which they were legally bound to do, Additional Public Prosecutor SM Zahid Hossain told The Daily Star.
Neither did they submit to the court a High Court stay order on this case as was claimed by their lawyer, he said.
Beximco counsel Shah Monjurul Hoque in a press statement claimed the court had passed no arrest warrants for the accused persons. "But, unfortunately, some media by misquoting/misrepresenting the order of the learned court have been telecasting reports stating that the learned court has issued warrants of arrest against the accused persons.”
Hoque also warned that publishing news containing misrepresentation of court orders was tantamount to contempt of court and defamation against the accused persons.
But the additional public prosecutor told The Daily Star before the court withdrew its arrest orders: "As they [Beximco officials] failed to submit the High Court order and instead placed a time petition, the court has cancelled their bail and ordered their arrests. The court has also ordered recording the statement of the complainant."
Soon after the arrest orders were issued, a Beximco lawyer filed a petition with Judge Ruhul Amin of the Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court, seeking withdrawal of the arrest warrants and two days' time to submit the HC stay order.
“If the order of arrest warrants against the three accused is issued, there will be a legal complication as the matter is now pending with the High Court,” Beximco’s lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajol argued.
At 1:30pm, the judge issued another order, giving two days' time for submission of the HC stay order. The order also said the trio would from now on be considered as fugitives and the trial would continue in their absence.
By 4:00pm Kajol returned to the court with the HC stay order, saying that the HC bench comprising Justice Shamim Hasnain and Justice Md Rezaul Hasan on February 15, 2011, had stayed the proceedings of the case till disposal of the rule.
After the hearing, the trial court stayed all the orders issued earlier in the day in connection with the case filed for manipulation of the stockmarket, which led to the collapse of the Dhaka bourse in 1996.
The latest order means the trial proceedings will remain suspended until the Supreme Court vacates the HC order.
Asked to comment on the latest order, Zahid said neither the court nor the defence lawyers had informed him about it.
MA Rashid Khan, the then executive director of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), filed the case with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, Dhaka on April 2, 1997.
In all, 15 cases were filed with lower courts over the share market debacle.
Pro-Awami League business tycoon Salman Rahman, one of the accused in these cases, was also named as a suspect in a report filed after investigation the 2011 stockmarket collapse.
Some 60 individuals, many associated with the AL and the BNP, have made fortunes through stockmarket manipulations, according to the body probing the 2011 share market debacle.