BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's hope to contest the upcoming general election has been diminished after the Supreme Court today said convicts with over two years' sentencing cannot run polls.
The apex court upheld a High Court order that ruled a convict sentenced to more than two years cannot contest elections even if his or her appeals against conviction remain pending.
The apex court order means that if any person is convicted and sentenced to more than two years cannot contest the elections in five years after serving the jail sentence, Additional Attorney General Murad Reza told The Daily Star.
A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed "no order" on the petition filed by Zahid Hossain seeking a stay on suspension/stay on his conviction and sentence, he said.
The "no order" means that the SC refused to stay the HC order.
Following the apex court order, no convicts including Khaleda Zia will be able to contest the elections as their conviction and sentences were not suspended, Murad Reza said.
Zahid Hossain's lawyer Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud told The Daily Star that there is a way for discussion of legal interpretation following the SC no order.
Replying to a question, he said the returning officer will decide whether his client can contest the elections.
KHALEDA CAN'T RUN IN ELECTIONS, SAYS AG
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia cannot run in the general elections, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said today citing a Supreme Court order.
He was referring to the apex court’s upholding of a High Court order that bars convicts jailed for more than two years from running in the elections.
The convict can run in polls after a five-year period following the jail term completion, the attorney general said in a press conference after the order.
The order came in parallel to BNP filing nomination for Khaleda today, for three constituencies, in hopes that she can contest in the election from prison.
WHAT WAS BNP'S REACTION ON YESTERDAY'S HC ORDER?
In reaction to the HC order, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday said, "We think this order has reflected the government's will."
He was talking to journalists at the BNP chief's Gulshan office before heading for his home district Thakurgaon, reports UNB.
“The High Court order ahead of the national election will undoubtedly raise many questions in the public mind. It was passed so that the BNP chief cannot join the election.
"We strongly condemn and protest it,” he added.
WHEN IS THE ELECTION?
Election Commission has revised polls schedule, deferring the 11th general election by a week to December 30 – a decision taken on November 12.
The authorities have fixed November 28 as the deadline for filing nomination papers, December 2 for scrutiny and December 9 last date of withdrawal.
The move came following demands from several opposition political parties.
IS EVERYONE PARTICIPATING?
Chief Election Commissioner has said that there is a congenial atmosphere in the country – echoing the words of the ruling party.
However, major opposition alliances like the JatiyaOikyafront, which includes BNP, and the BikalpaDhara-led Juktafront have sought for delaying the schedule.
Until thus far, it seems that the coming parliamentary election will not be the “non-participatory election” that was its predecessor.
All the major political parties are gearing up to contest in the election and there has been no threats of a boycott or withdrawal unlike the last time.
WHY IS KHALEDA IN JAIL?
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia landed in jail back in February after her conviction in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case, where she was handed a five-year jail term.
Later, she was also convicted in Zia Charitable Trust graft case and handed a seven-year term.
In the appeal against her punishment in Zia Orphanage graft, a higher court increased her punishment to 10 years in prison.