The High Court yesterday directed Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain to surrender before a lower court in six weeks in a corruption case filed on charges of amassing illegal wealth worth Tk 3 crore.
It also cancelled its 2008 order that stayed the proceedings of the case and granted bail to Mosharraf.
The HC, however, asked the trial court to consider granting the minister bail in accordance with the law if he surrenders before it.
The case was filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission during the military-backed caretaker government rule in 2007.
This is for the first time the HC asked a sitting minister to surrender to a lower court in connection with a corruption case filed by the Commission, an ACC lawyer said.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Amir Hossain also rejected a petition filed by the Awami League leader in August 2008, challenging legality of the initiation and proceedings of the case.
The judges passed the order after Mosharraf's lawyer Abdul Matin Khasru told the HC that his client would not proceed with the petition in the hope that the ACC might submit a final report to the trial court.
Matin Khasru told The Daily Star that the case against Mosharraf is at the investigation stage.
Mosharraf gave his wealth statement properly to the ACC and he pays all relevant taxes to the government and that he did not obtain any property through illegal means, he said, adding that the ACC might give a final report exonerating Mosharraf of the case.
Matin Khasru said the HC asked the trial court to consider a bail petition of Mosharraf in accordance with the law, as he did not misuse the bail earlier granted by the HC.
The ACC filed the case with Ramna Police Station on November 25, 2007, against Mosharraf on charges of amassing Tk 3 crore wealth and concealing information about it, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star.
Following the petition of Mosharraf, the HC in August 2008 stayed the case proceedings, issued a rule asking the ACC and the government to explain why the proceedings of the case should not be scrapped, and granted bail to Mosharraf in the case, he said.
The HC yesterday vacated the order of stay and bail, he said, adding that the ACC can now resume investigation into the case.
Replying to a question, Khusrhid Alam said the HC is now waiting for rehearing 26 appeals of around 30 people, mostly politicians and their family members, against their convictions and sentences given by trial courts in separate corruption cases.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court at different times in the last few years has overturned the HC's acquittal of them and ordered it [the HC] to hold further hearing on their appeals.
The convicted accused whose acquittals were scrapped by the SC include Relief and Disaster Management Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, former BNP minister Nazmul Huda and his wife Sigma Huda, former BNP state ministers Iqbal Hasan Mahmood Tuku and Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin, Nasir's son Mir Helal Uddin, independent lawmaker and AL leader Haji Mohammad Selim, former BNP state minister Amanullah Aman and his wife Sabera Aman, former AL MP Joynal Abedin Hazari, former BNP legislator Hafiz Ibrahim and his wife Mafruza Sultana, former AL MP Mockbul Hossain and his wife Fatema Tahera Khanam, former commissioner of customs Jahurul Haque and his wife Afia Haque, former BNP MP Rashiduzzaman Millat, former MP of Islami Oikya Jote Mufti Shahidul Islam, and engineer Monjurul Ahsan Munshi.
They were sentenced to various terms ranging from three to 10 years in prison by lower courts in different graft cases filed by the ACC. The cases were mainly over amassing illegal wealth and concealing wealth information.
The SC cancelled their acquittals considering the HC verdicts wrong, as the HC did not properly examine relevant evidence and corruption allegations against the accused, the lawyer said.
The HC bench led by Md Ruhul Quddus has recently started rehearing the appeal of engineer Monjurul Ahsan Munshi, he added.