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May 15 set for SC ruling on Khaleda's bail

Commotion again at hearing

The Supreme Court hearing on the two appeals against Khaleda Zia's HC bail order once again witnessed commotion from some lawyers yesterday.

The apex court concluded the hearing and set May 15 for delivering a verdict on the pleas filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government.

The High Court on March 12 had granted bail to the BNP chairperson, now in jail, in the Zia Orphanage Trust Corruption case.

On Tuesday, a section of lawyers shouted “no, no, no” when Attorney General Mahbubey Alam was placing his arguments in favour of the government appeal.

Yesterday, some lawyers again shouted and made remarks when the AG was placing his arguments.

At this, another group of lawyers began shouting at the first group, creating a commotion in the courtroom.

Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, who was presiding over the four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC, asked the lawyers to stop making noise and not to interrupt the court proceedings. 

“No disturbance. Don't shout. We cannot run the court proceedings if you don't stop it,” the CJ said.

The situation became calm after some senior lawyers, including

Zainul Abedin, AJ Mohammad Ali and Abdul Matin Khasru, requested those lawyers to stop making noise.

During yesterday's hearing, Khaleda's lawyers -- Ali and Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, Zainul and Moudud Ahmed -- prayed to the SC to dismiss the appeals and uphold the HC bail order.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan and the AG prayed to the apex court to scrap the HC order and ask the HC to expeditiously hear the appeal filed by Khaleda, challenging the trial court verdict sentencing her to five years in jail.

Earlier in the day, Ali reminded the apex court that it did not interfere in HC bail orders in “99.99 percent of the cases”.

The HC granted bail to Khaleda taking her old age, illness and short sentence into consideration. Therefore, the SC may uphold the order to ensure justice, he argued.

Mahbub told the SC that the government was “planning to implement the 'minus one theory' by keeping Khaleda away from politics with the use of the court”.

“I can challenge that they [the government and the ACC] cannot show an example where the Appellate Division has interfered in the High Court orders of bail,” he said.

Pro-BNP lawyers and activists march on the Supreme Court premises as hearing on the appeals against Khaleda Zia's bail concluded yesterday. The apex court fixed May 15 for delivering verdict on the appeals. Photo: Amran Hossain

Zainul argued that Khaleda's physical condition would not deteriorate if she was granted bail.

The HC did scrap the cases filed against many ruling Awami League leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but the government and the ACC did not move any appeal before the SC against those HC verdicts, he claimed.

He said the HC also granted bail to AL leaders, including Mohammed Nasim and Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, on health grounds in separate cases, but the ACC and the government did not move any appeal against those as well.

Khaleda's bail order needed to be upheld because of her old age and illness, he said.

In his argument, Moudud told the court that the case against Khaleda would not have reached the current state had she not been the chairperson of the BNP.

“We are the victim of the situation. Cases are filed against us even if we don't commit any crime. On the other hand, cases are not filed against them [ruling party men] even though they commit offences,” he added.    

Replying to these arguments, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam prayed to the SC to assign an HC bench for hearing the appeal filed by Khaleda challenging the trial court verdict.

The AG told the apex court that Khaleda had discharged the duties of the prime minister and continued her politics despite having the diseases “which are tolerable”.

Therefore, she could not be granted bail on health grounds, he said, adding that if she was granted bail she would “go away”.