The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court yesterday rejected BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s petition for bail in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
A six-member bench of the Appellate Division, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, however, asked the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities to provide the BNP chief with advanced treatment immediately.
The petition sought bail for Khaleda on health grounds.
The BNP said it was frustrated and aggrieved over the order and alleged Khaleda was being deprived of justice.
Its senior leaders held an emergency meeting at the chairperson’s Gulshan office to analyse the post-verdict situation and decide on the next course of action.
After the meeting, the party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced BNP will stage demonstrations and bring out processions across the country on Sunday to protest the SC verdict.
Seeking bail at the hearing, BNP chairperson’s Adviser Advocate Khandaker Mahbub Hossain said, “I plead that you grant the aged woman bail considering her ailments.”
Khaleda’s lawyer Zainul Abedin claimed the BNP chief was suffering from various illnesses and was not given proper treatment.
The state counsel, however, claimed she was not giving consent to advanced treatment.
Both Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and Khaleda’s lawyers presented their arguments at the two-hour long hearing.
Citing a medical report, Zainul said Khaleda is becoming “crippled”.
“There are instances the Appellate Division granted bail in other cases. … she [Khaleda] was the prime minister of the country. She would not flee if she is granted bail,” he said.
Countering Zainul, the attorney general placed three medical reports before the court. One report was prepared during the trial of the Zia Charitable Trust case and the other two were prepared on October 12 and December 11 this year.
He then read out all the medical reports.
“The board is eagerly waiting for the consent of Khaleda Zia for the treatments that have been suggested for her,” he added.
On November 28, the Appellate Division gave the order to form a medical board to assess Khaleda’s health condition.
Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said, “It is a unanimous order.”
“The [bail] petition is dismissed with the observation that the writ petitioner met the necessary format. The board is directed to take steps for immediate advanced treatment… as per recommendations of the board,” he added.
Other members of the bench were Justice Muhammad Imman Ali, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, Justice Zinat Ara, Justice Abu Bakar Siddiquee and Justice Md Nuruzzaman.
Khaleda moved the apex court on November 14, challenging a High Court order that turned down her bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case on September 11.
The BNP chief’s bail plea had been turned down twice before -- on July 31 and September 3.
On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Zia Charitable Trust case with Tejgaon police against four people, including Khaleda. They were accused of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.
A special court jailed Khaleda and three others for seven years in the case on October 29 last year. Khaleda later moved the High Court for bail.
The former prime minister has been in jail since February 8 last year after she was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a separate corruption case.
She is currently being treated at BSMMU. Her party accuses the government of not providing adequate treatment to Khaleda.
Security in the court area was stepped up to avert any untoward incident yesterday.
Before the proceedings started, the chief justice ordered both the prosecution and defence to ensure the presence of 30 lawyers from each side in the courtroom and adjourned it for five minutes.
Soon after the verdict, pro-BNP lawyers staged demonstrations in the court area, protesting the verdict.
“We battled for bail. Denying bail on a seven-year imprisonment is unprecedented. It will remain as a disgraceful move by the Supreme Court,” Khaleda’s adviser Khandaker Mahbub told journalists after the verdict was given.
“We are frustrated and aggrieved. The whole nation is not only stunned but also aggrieved. People expected that their leader [Khaleda] would get justice from the top court of the country. But, unfortunately, she was denied [justice],” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul said.
The BNP leader said the party will bring out processions in every ward of Dhaka city after 2:00pm on Sunday. “We will announce our next course of action later.”
Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the government had nothing to do with Khaleda Zia’s corruption case.
“The judiciary is enjoying full freedom under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rule. The case against Khaleda Zia is a corruption case. So, the government has nothing to do with it,” Quader, also road, transport and bridges minister, told journalists while speaking at the triennial council of Kurigram Awami League.