Treatment Abroad: She has to go back to jail to seek permission
Law Minister Anisul Haq once again said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has to return to jail to seek release and permission to take treatment abroad, even though the law ministry earlier opined that her sentence could be suspended for a further six months.
"Khaleda Zia had applied for release from prison under section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). But, in that application, she had not applied for permission to go abroad for treatment. The application has already been disposed of after the government has granted her prayer. There is no law to change this decision.
"If she wants to go to abroad for treatment now, she has to go back to jail first and then submit a fresh application seeking conditional release from jail and permission to go abroad," the law minister said while answering questions after attending as chief guest a function organised by the Bangladesh Law Commission in the capital yesterday.
On Saturday night, the law minister had told The Daily Star that he had given his opinion for a further six-month extension of suspension of Khaleda's jail sentence
The minister, however, did not give any opinion on the appeal to allow Khaleda Zia's treatment abroad.
The law ministry's opinion given on September 7 was not forwarded to the Prime Minister's Office as the home minister and a senior secretary of the security services division concerned are now abroad, Anisul Huq said.
The application will be sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her approval after the home minister and the official returns, he added.
On September 7, he told this correspondent that the application was submitted on behalf of Khaleda Zia for a further suspension of her jail sentence as her physical condition had worsened and therefore she needed to go abroad for treatment.
The application is similar to the previous application, based on which the government suspended her jail sentence multiple times under section 401(1) of CrPC, the law minister said.
The government released Khaleda Zia on March 25 last year after suspending her jail sentence.
Section 401(1) of the CrPC says: "When any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offence, the Government may at any time without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his/her sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he/she has been sentenced."
On August 28, Anisul Huq had first said Khaleda Zia would have to return to jail if she wants to seek permission to go abroad for treatment, saying that she had applied for her release but not for permission to go abroad for treatment.
Khaleda's jail sentence was later extended twice and the government issued separate notifications to this effect. The notifications said Khaleda will receive treatment at her home and she cannot go abroad during this period.
Khaleda landed in jail on February 8, 2017, after being sentenced to five years' imprisonment by a special court in Dhaka in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. On October 30 the following year, the High Court enhanced her punishment to 10 years after dismissing her appeal in the case.
The former prime minister was convicted by another special court in Dhaka in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case on October 29, 2018. She was sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment by the court.