Only four appeals out of the 27 corruption cases filed during the regime of military-backed caretaker government have been disposed of by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court (SC) in around four years after the apex court overturned acquittals of the accused.
Between January 2014 and June 2015, the Appellate Division of the SC scrapped the acquittals of 35 people -- mostly politicians and their family members -- and ordered the HC to expeditiously rehear their appeals against lower courts’ verdicts.
It is taking long to dispose of the appeals for many reasons, including the accused moving separate review petitions before the SC, Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told this paper yesterday.
“Besides, the relevant benches are overburdened and a number of them have been reconstituted. In some cases, documents crucial to hearing were not produced before the court in time,” he said.
The HC has so far reheard and settled the appeals of former relief and disaster management minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, former BNP minister Nazmul Huda, and former BNP lawmakers engineer Monjurul Ahsan Munshi and Hafiz Ibrahim in separate graft cases.
It acquitted Maya and Munshi of the charges, commuted jail terms for Huda to four years from seven, and upheld three years’ jail term for Hafiz Ibrahim after rehearing their appeals, Advocate Khan said.
The lawyer said the HC had partly heard the appeal of former BNP state minister Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku in a corruption case. Some of the appeals were included in the cause lists of two HC benches concerned.
An HC bench of Justice AKM Abdul Hakim and Justice Fatema Najib earlier heard arguments for several days on the appeals of BNP leader Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin and his son Mir Helal Uddin.
The bench may resume the hearings within a few weeks, the ACC lawyer said, adding that hearings and disposal of rest of the appeals might be completed by next year.
The ACC lawyer said the HC had earlier acquitted the accused in light of an SC judgment that acquitted former Awami League minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir in a graft case.
The SC acquitted Alamgir, declaring illegal a 2007 ACC notice that asked him to submit a wealth statement. There were no ACC commissioners appointed then and Alamgir was in jail at that time, Khan noted.
Then the commission issued similar notices to around 50 corruption suspects, he said, adding that other appeals might be disposed by the HC in a year if defence lawyers do not take adjournments.
The SC first scrapped the acquittal of Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku and sent his appeal to the HC for rehearing on January 27, 2014.
The apex court passed similar orders on other accused on different dates considering that the HC may not have properly evaluated relevant evidence and allegations.
Other accused whose acquittal were cancelled by the top court include Awami League lawmaker Haji Mohammad Selim, former BNP state minister Amanullah Aman and his wife Sabera Aman, former AL lawmaker Joynal Abedin Hazari, Hafiz Ibrahim’s wife Mafruza Sultana, former AL lawmaker Mockbul Hossain and his wife Fatema Tahera Khanam, former commissioner of customs Jahurul Haque and his wife Afia Haque, and former Islami Oikya Jote lawmaker Mufti Shahidul Islam, court sources said.