Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:The High Court yesterday issued a rule asking BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and the government to explain why her jail sentence in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case should not be extended.
As the BNP chief was ill, the jail authorities did not produce her before a Dhaka court in connection with the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
The trial court extended her bail till April 5 and also fixed the same date for hearing arguments in the case.
Meanwhile, a Comilla court yesterday issued a show cause order asking the jail authorities to explain in seven days why Khaleda was not produced before it in an arson case.
The BNP chief is now facing 34 cases.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim came up with the rule after hearing a revision petition filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The court said it would hold hearing on the rule along with the appeals filed by Khaleda and Kazi Salimul Haque, challenging the lower court verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Khaleda, who landed in jail on February 8, filed the appeal with the HC on February 20 challenging the special court’s judgment that sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment.
Another convict Salimul, a former BNP lawmaker, filed an appeal with the HC on March 6 challenging the trial court’s verdict that handed him a 10-year jail term.
The HC accepted the appeals on February 22 and March 7 for their hearings.
The ACC on Sunday filed the revision petition with the HC challenging the trial court verdict, saying that an inadequate sentence was given to Khaleda by the lower court.
During yesterday’s hearing, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told the HC that the five other accused have been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment each.
But Khaleda, the prime accused, was sentenced to five years in jail which was inadequate and discriminatory, he argued.
The lawyer prayed to the court to issue a rule asking Khaleda and the state to show causes why her jail sentence should not be enhanced.
Strongly opposing the ACC’s petition, Klaleda’s lawyers said the prayer is not acceptable under any law.
There is no scope under any law for filing a revision petition for enhancing the jail sentence handed by a court to an accused, Moudud Ahmed, Zainul Abedin and AJ Mohammad Ali argued.
They prayed to the HC to summerly reject the petition.
Moudud told the court that being an independent body, the ACC cannot be aggrieved with a verdict against a political personality like Khaleda.
Zainul said the ACC has filed the revision petition “purposefully” although there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure for filing such a prayer.
Mohammad Ali said the graft watchdog has filed the petition with a “mala fide intention” although it cannot move any such prayer for enhancing the sentence of a convict.
The ACC could have filed an appeal against the lower court verdict, he added.
On February 8, the BNP chairperson’s elder son Tarique Rahman, also the acting chairperson of the party, and four others were given 10 years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and a fine of Tk 2.10 crore each.
The Supreme Court on March 19 stayed a High Court order that granted four months’ bail to Khaleda in the case.
PROCEEDINGS AT DHAKA COURT
Khaleda was scheduled to be taken to a makeshift court in Bakshi Bazar where the trial in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case has been taking place.
But she was not taken to the court from jail due to illness.
Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Judge Court-5 of Dhaka extended her bail to April 5 and fixed the same date for hearing arguments in the case, said Anisur Rahman, deputy commissioner (prosecution), now posted at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka.
The ACC had filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station in August 2011, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.
On March 13, the court issued a production warrant for Khaleda asking the jail authorities to produce her before it on March 28-29.
PROCEEDINGS AT COMILLA COURT
Kazi Arafat, senior judicial magistrate of Comilla, issued a show cause notice on the jail authorities asking them to explain why Khaleda was absent at the court in connection with the arson attack case.
The BNP chief was shown arrested in the case on March 13.
The prison authorities have been asked to submit the explanation within next seven days, reports our Comilla correspondent quoting defence counsel Kaimul Haque.
Khaleda has been accused of instigating the arson attack that killed seven passengers of a bus and left 25-30 others injured in Chauddagram, Comilla on February 3, 2015.