12:00 AM, December 11, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:23 AM, December 11, 2018

Khaleda's Polls Bid: HC decides on her petitions today

The High Court today will rule on whether BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia can run for the December 30 general election. 

Yesterday, it set the date for passing an order on three writ petitions filed by Khaleda, challenging the Election Commission's decisions upholding the returning officers' cancellation of her all three nomination papers.

The bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir concluded hearing arguments from the counsels concerned with the writ petitions.

Khaleda's lawyer AJ Mohammad Ali told the HC that the EC was not  performing independently and the returning officers were being directed by the government. 

Therefore, all the orders issued by the EC on the three appeals of Khaleda were the same though the nomination papers were submitted in three districts, he said.

The lawyer added that if the EC were independent, its decisions would have been different, as it happened to the nomination papers submitted by ruling Awami League-led alliance candidates -- Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Pankaj Debnath and Nazmul Huda.   

He argued that article 66(2) (d) of the constitution stipulates that if someone is convicted and sentenced to more than two years' imprisonment for moral turpitude, he or she may not be eligible to contest the election.

Since the appeals (against the convictions of Khaleda in two cases) are pending, the convictions do not reach the finality, he said.

Mohammad Ali cited the Supreme Court's earlier decision mentioned in 48 Dhaka Law Reports and said if someone was guilty or convicted, he or she could participate in polls.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the writ petitions saying that Khaleda Zia cannot be allowed to contest the election as per article 66(2)(d) of the constitution as she has been convicted and sentenced to 10 years and seven years' imprisonment in two separate corruption cases.

Article 66 (2)(d) stipulates, “A person shall be disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of parliament who has been, on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”

The attorney general said the HC has recently observed that a convicted person sentenced to more than two years in jail cannot contest the election in five years after his or her serving the sentence, even if an appeal against the conviction is pending.

The Appellate Division of the SC has not interfered in the HC observation, he argued.

Khaleda, a former prime minister, on December 9 filed three separate writ petitions also seeking HC directives on the EC to accept the nomination papers so that she can run from Bogura-6, 7 and Feni-1.

In the petitions, she also prayed to the HC to issue a rule asking the EC why its decisions on her nomination papers should not be declared illegal, Barrister Kayser Kamal, a lawyer for Khaleda, told The Daily Star.

He said the EC rejected Khaleda's appeals on the grounds of violating the electoral code of conduct.

But the question of Khaleda's violating the code does not arise as she has been in jail since February, Kayser pointed out.

On December 8, the EC rejected her all three appeals against cancellation of her nomination papers by returning officers (ROs).

Khaleda landed in jail on February 8 after a special court in Dhaka sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. The HC later extended her jail term to 10 years.

On October 29, Khaleda was convicted and sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment by the same court in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.


The HC yesterday cleared the way for four candidates. It directed the EC to accept their nomination papers and allow them to contest the polls.

The EC recently upheld the ROs' cancellation of their nomination papers on different grounds.

Of the four, two are from the BNP, two are independent candidates.

The BNP contenders are Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku and Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu and the independents are Ashraful Alam alias Hero Alam and Rintoo Anwar.

Meanwhile, the HC yesterday turned down the writ petition of BNP's Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan seeking legality of his candidacy in Khagrachhari constituency.

The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al Jalil passed the order.

Deputy Attorney General Moklesur Rahman told The Daily Star that Wadud's writ petition was rejected as he was convicted and sentenced to jail in a corruption case.

He said Wadud cannot take part in the December 30 election following the order.

Mokhlesur said the HC bench accepted the writ petitions of Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku and Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu as their convictions and jail sentences have earlier been suspended by another HC bench.

Also yesterday, the HC bench of Justice Tariq ul Hakim and Justice Md Shohrowardi fixed today for passing order on a writ petition filed by Jatiya Party chairman's Special Assistant Ruhul Amin Hawlader challenging the EC's rejection of the appeal against cancellation of his nomination papers for Patuakhali-1, Deputy Attorney General Amatul Karim Swapna told this correspondent.

Eirini-Maria Gounari, a legal expert from European Union, visited the court during the HC hearing on Khaleda's writ petitions yesterday.

The judges of the HC bench asked her to be seated in the courtroom and allowed her to see the court proceedings.

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