Jamaat unfit for polls
The High Court yesterday declared illegal the Jamaat-e-Islami's registration as a political party with the Election Commission.
When the military-backed caretaker regime in 2008 introduced the registration system, 38 political parties, including Jamaat, were registered with the EC.
Jamaat in phases amended its constitution massively to meet the registration requirements, as no unregistered political party is allowed to take part in elections.
For the first time, Jamaat made mention of democracy in its charter, though the party's ultimate aim is to implement Islamic rule in the country.
The party secured the registration on November 24, 2008.
The next year, some 25 petitioners, including several Islamist parties, organisations and individuals, filed a writ petition with the HC challenging the EC decision to allow Jamaat's registration.
In violation of article 65(1) of the country's constitution, section 2(5) of Jamaat charter fails to recognise parliament or parliament's legitimacy to enact laws for the republic, the petition said.
It added that Jamaat has offices abroad in violation of the country's constitution.
Around 2:30pm yesterday, a three-member special HC bench pronounced a short verdict on this much-talked about petition.
Justice M Moazzam Husain, who was the presiding judge, in a packed courtroom said the majority view of the bench is that Jamaat's registration is illegal and unlawful. "It [the registration] has no legal effect."
But he did not mention who among the three judges had disagreed with the majority view. Lawyers said it will be known after the copy of the full judgment is released.
Two other judges of the bench are Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque.
Moments after the verdict, Jamaat's counsels stood before the bench and prayed for issuing certificate so that they can directly appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment.
The court granted the prayer. Otherwise, Jamaat would have required filing leave petition with the SC for permission to appeal.
Jamaat's lawyer Tajul Islam, who was in the courtroom, in his immediate reaction told The Daily Star, "We are very unhappy with the judgment; we will file appeal."
Soon after the judgment, Jamaat's counsels rushed to the chamber of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, chamber judge of the Supreme Court for the day, with a prayer to stay the verdict.
As the proceedings of the chamber judge's court had ended earlier, he did not hear Jamaat's stay petition.
Later in a press briefing, barrister Abdur Razzaq, Jamaat's counsel and assistant secretary general of the party, said they would move the stay petition before the apex court on September 15, when it reopens after one and a half months' vacation starting today.
As the HC issued the certificate, Razzaq said, this case is still sub-judice. So the party can continue its function and even take part in elections.
According to the Jamaat's counsels, the HC issued the certificate according to the constitution's article 103 (2) (b) and this means the case involves a substantial question of law as to interpretation of the constitution.
"Jamaat will survive as a political party; Jamaat can function as political party. Only it will be without registration as long as the HC verdict is valid," Tajul Islam said.
In his immediate reaction, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday said they would take the next step after receiving the copy of the verdict.
He, however, said none can take part in elections under the banner of Jamaat after the execution of the HC verdict.
“After the execution of the verdict, anybody from the party [Jamaat] will be able to take part in elections individually. Nobody can take part in the polls from the party platform either,” he said while replying to questions from journalists at the commission.
Eminent Jurist Shahdeen Malik told The Daily Star last night, “Jamaat has become disqualified to contest the parliamentary elections as a political party.”
Jamaat, a key component of the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance, has two seats in the present parliament and it gets four to five percent votes in national elections.
The religion-based political party was highly active in its notorious mission to wipe out the Bangalee nation in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army in the name of protecting Pakistan's integrity.
Controversial Islamist thinker Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi formed Jamaat in undivided India under British colonial rule in 1941.
According to the subcontinent's history, when the movement for the creation of Pakistan began, then Jamaat ameer Mawdudi opposed the idea of a separate state for Muslims, read an international crimes tribunal verdict.
After 1947, Jamaat has become a widely-criticised Islamist party in Pakistan because of Mawdudi's controversial interpretation of Islam and statements provoking communal riot.
Jamaat had East Pakistan wing till liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Ghulam Azam, recently convicted top war criminal was the ameer (chief) of East Pakistan Jamaat.
Incumbent Jamaat ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami and another leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed during the Liberation War were top leaders of Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student wing of Jamaat.
Nizami, now in jail, is facing a trial for war crimes committed during the nine-month war and Mojaheed has already been convicted on war crimes charges.
The government of independent Bangladesh in its first decision banned five communal outfits including Jamaat, which not only opposed the nation's independence but also actively helped Pakistani occupation forces commit genocide and other war crimes.
The banned parties, including Jamaat, were given the green light to do politics during the rule of Ziaur Rahman after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
One court document in Jamaat leader Mojaheed case says Jamaat in 1979 took part in parliamentary elections under the name of Islamic Democratic League [IDL] led by Mawlana Abdur Rahim and secured six seats in parliament.
Jamaat leader barrister Abdur Razzak told The Daily Star yesterday, IDL was political front of Jamaat in 1979 election as Jamaat-e-Islami was just a religious Islamic organisation that later emerged as a political party in independent Bangladesh.
Another Jamaat lawyer said, "Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh was officially founded in a convention chaired by its late acting ameer Abbas Ali Khan at Hotel Eden in Dhaka on 25-27 May in 1979.”
The war crimes tribunals in their judgments elaborately described about the Jamaat's role in 1971.
In the verdict in the trial of Ghulam Azam, judges termed Jamaat a criminal organisation while discussing the party's role in 1971.
The judgment said, “Taking the contextual circumstances coupled with documentary evidence into consideration, we are led to observe that Jamaat-e-Islami, as a political party under the leadership of accused Prof Ghulam Azam, intentionally functioned as a criminal organisation especially during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.”
The judgment reads: “And after 42 years, it is noticed that some of the anti-liberation people are still staying at the helm of the Jamaat-e-Islami. As a result, the young generation belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami are being psychologically reared up and nurtured with anti-liberation sentiments and communal feelings, which is a matter of great anxiety for a nation.
“There is no proof before the nation that those who played an anti-liberation role in 1971 have ever changed their attitude towards liberation war by expressing repentance or by showing respect to the departed souls of 3 million martyrs.”
Some war crimes judgment's also said Jamaat played leading role to create Pakistani occupational army's auxiliary forces like Al-Badr, Razakar, Al Shams and Peace Committee which actively took part in atrocities on Bangalees.
Tureen Afroz, prosecutor for the war crimes cases, told The Daily Star they have been working to prepare a case with a tribunal against the Jamaat-e-Islami for its crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War.
After release of the judgment's full text, it will be known on which grounds the judges gave the verdict.
Barrister Tania Amir, counsel for the petitioners, during the case proceedings argued that the EC's decision to allow Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party was illegal and unconstitutional, as this organisation was a religion-based a communal political party and it did not believe in independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh.
Tania told the court that some provisions of Jamaat charter are contrary to Bangladesh's constitution, the RPO, and the Charter of Medina.
The Charter of Medina, signed and executed by Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and representatives of other religions around 1,400 years ago, was inherently secular and essentially democratic, she added.
“The people have won,” Tania, who went abroad later in the day, told the Ekattor TV over phone. “Today it has been established in Bangladesh that if any political party goes to people, begging for votes, it must accept that all powers in the republic belongs to the people.”