A group of pro-BNP lawyers yesterday created unprecedented chaos at the Supreme Court during the hearing of party chief Khaleda Zia’s bail appeal in a corruption case, forcing the chief justice and five other judges to leave the courtroom.
The lawyers shouted at the apex court judges, “Shame, Shame”, “We want justice”, “Khaleda Zia has the right to get bail”. The pandemonium hampered judicial proceedings for more than an hour.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain termed the incident “unprecedented”.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and pro-Awami League lawyers said it was derogatory for the judiciary.
Mahbubey urged the CJ to take appropriate action against the lawyers who caused chaos in the courtroom.
Khaleda’s lawyers said they were not satisfied with the SC order that gave Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) another week to submit two reports on Khaleda’s health condition.
They claimed that her condition is very bad and she needs advanced treatment.
Strongly condemning the incident, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government is considering legal action against those who created disorder at the SC.
Around 9:45am yesterday, a six-member SC bench led by the CJ started hearing the appeal filed by the BNP chairperson seeking bail in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
Mahbubey told the court that the BSMMU authorities were yet to prepare the medical reports on Khaleda’s condition, and they needed one more week to carry out various tests on her.
He prayed to the court to adjourn the hearing till December 12.
Khaleda’s lawyer Zainul Abedin opposed the attorney general, saying her condition was bad.
He requested the apex court to hear the appeal yesterday and grant her bail considering her health condition and humanitarian aspects.
The lawyer also claimed that they got a copy of the medical report on Khaleda’s condition, prepared by the BSMMU authorities.
But the AG said his office did not get any such report from the BSMMU.
Zainul then showed a copy of the report to Mahbubey.
The AG asked how the BNP lawyers could get the copy of a confidential medical report.
Zainul said the report was prepared by a BSMMU medical board.
Mahbubey questioned the report’s authenticity, saying the BSMMU vice chancellor told him that they could submit the reports on Khaleda’s health condition only after conducting some more medical tests on her.
Zainul then read out the SC’s November 28 order that directed the BSMMU VC to form a medical board and submit a report on Khaleda’s condition on December 5 (yesterday). The court had also asked the BSMMU to give it on the same date the report prepared by a BSMMU medical board on October 30.
The AG told the SC that it might adjourn the hearing until the medical reports are produced before it.
AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon, another counsel for Khaleda, alleged that the BSMMU did not submit the medical report on the attorney general’s advice.
“What an audacity! The medical report was not submitted even though the apex court gave an order,” he said.
State counsels objected to Khokon’s comment.
The CJ said the court would go through both the reports and hear the appeal on December 12.
Zainul urged the court to fix Monday for hearing the appeal.
But the SC bench didn’t change its decision and asked the BSMMU VC to submit the reports to the apex court by December 11. The pro-BNP lawyers then started shouting and created disorder in the courtroom.
The CJ and the other five judges sat silently for a few minutes. They left the courtroom around 10:00am, failing to run judicial functions due to chaos.
The pro-BNP lawyers said they would not leave the courtroom until the SC hears the appeal and grants Khaleda bail.
After one and a half hours, the judges returned to the courtroom.
The CJ said, “There is a limit to everything… I have not seen such a situation in a courtroom before. This is unprecedented.”
Zainul said Khaleda was very sick and she could not move or walk, but the prime minister claimed that the BNP chief was well.
In response, the CJ said, “This court passes order based on documents and evidence. It does not care what someone says.”
Barrister Ajmalul Hossain then started placing arguments in another case at 11:35am. But the pro-BNP lawyers didn’t leave the room and the court proceedings continued for about 40 minutes amid chaos.
The atmosphere became raucous around 12:15pm as the pro-BNP lawyers started shouting slogans, hampering court proceedings for about an hour.
The judges left the courtroom at 1:15pm. Usually, the SC holds proceedings till 1:15pm.
On November 14, Khaleda filed the appeal with the SC, challenging the High Court order that rejected her bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
On October 29 last year, Dhaka Special Judge’s Court-5 convicted Khaleda in the case and sentenced her to seven years’ imprisonment in her absence. The Anti-Corruption Commission had filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station on August 8, 2011.
The BNP chief landed in jail on February 8 last year after the same court awarded her five years’ imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The HC on October 30 enhanced her jail term to 10 years in the case, dismissing her appeal.