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6 December, 2019 12:31:05 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 6 December, 2019 03:51:58 PM
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Unprecedented chaos in courtroom

Judicial activities halt for 3hrs as pro-BNP lawyers go berserk during Khaleda bail hearing
STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Unprecedented chaos in courtroom
Lawyers yell furiously during the hearing of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case, plunging the chief justice’s courtroom in the capital yesterday into unprecedented chaos. STAR MAIL PHOTO

There was unprecedented chaos in the Chief Justice’s courtroom during the hearing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. The chaos ensued following an agitation by pro-BNP lawyers during the hearing.

The judicial activities of the Appellate Division were suspended for about three hours amid the chaos and demonstrations by pro-BNP lawyers when the six-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, deferred the hearing to December 12.

Some 250 pro-BNP lawyers entered the courtroom in protest around 10:30 am, forcing the judges of the apex court to leave the courtroom ahead of the regular break.

After the break, when the judges of the Appellate Division bench returned to the courtroom, the BNP lawyers started shouting again, disrupting court activities. The apex court was unable to take up any other cases till the end of the day’s proceedings.

“Everything has a limit. This is an unprecedented incident. I have not seen such a situation in the courtroom before. This court passes orders on the basis of documents and evidence. It does not care what anybody says,” the Chief Justice said in the courtroom after returning from the break.

But the lawyers started shouting “Shame, shame” and chanted “We want justice.” They created a deadlock till the judges left the courtroom at 1.15 pm.

When the day proceedings started yesterday at 9.30 a.m., attorney general (AG) Mahbubey Alam told the court: “The vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) informed me that Khaleda Zia was yet to undergo some medical tests. That will require time.”

The six-member bench of the Appellate Division then fixed December 12 for a further hearing on the matter and directed the BSMMU authorities to submit the medical report by December 11 without fail.

Advocate Zainul Abedin, counsel for the BNP chief, submitted a previous medical report on Khaleda Zia’s health condition, which was prepared by the BSMMU medical board that was formed on October 7 this year.

But the AG challenged the report, saying that it was not a report by an authentic medical body.

Advocate Zainul Abedin then urged the apex court to consider the bail of the BNP chief on health grounds, as she was an old woman.

But the apex court rejected the appeal, saying that it would hold a hearing on the two medical reports simultaneously on December 12.

Zainul then appealed that the court fix an earlier hearing date on December 9. But this plea, too, was rejected by the apex court.

At that point, the pro-BNP lawyers, who were inside the courtroom, started shouting and raised slogans, demanding the unconditional release of the BNP chief. This forced all six judges to leave the courtroom at 9.55 a.m.

Senior lawyers of the BNP chief, advocate Khandker Mahbub Hossain, advocate AJ Mohammad Ali, barrister Moudud Ahmed, advocate Zainul Abedin, and barrister AM Mahbub Uddin Khokan remained confined in the courtroom following the agitation.

AG Mahbubey Alam, Supreme Court Bar Association president AM Amin Uddin, advocate Ajmalul Hossain, and barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh were

also confined in the courtroom at this time. But at one stage, they came out of the court and held a press briefing in the north hall of the Supreme Court Bar Association building.

However, the pro-BNP layers, including the senior lawyers, did not leave the courtroom during the break.

When the six judges again entered the courtroom at 11.35 a.m. after a long break, the BNP chief’s lawyers tried to draw the attention of the court and sought bail for the BNP chief on humanitarian grounds.

In response, the apex court said that it would not hear any more on the matter as it had already passed an order on the issue.

Later, the Chief Justice asked barrister Ajmalul Hossain to place his argument before the court in another case.

Once again, the pro-BNP lawyers started raising slogans. After 12:15 p.m., the judges halted the judicial activities again.

The pro-BNP lawyers again chanted slogans, saying “We want justice” and “We want bail for Khaleda Zia”. They interrupted the court proceedings till the judges left the courtroom at 1:15 p.m., putting an end to the day’s court activities.

After coming out from the courtroom, the pro-BNP lawyers held a press briefing at the Supreme Court auditorium, where hundreds of lawyers gathered chanting slogans in favour of the BNP chief.

Barrister Moudud Ahmed, advocate Khandker Mahbub Hossain, and advocate Zainul Abedin termed the situation as unprecedented in the history of the judiciary. They held the AG responsible for the incident.

They said the lawyers took the unprecedented step of demanding justice as the BNP chief was entitled to get bail under Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure of Code. But the government was keeping her in jail to fulfil its political desire, they added. Advocate Zainul Abedin said that the BNP chief was seriously ill and her condition was deteriorating daily due to lack of proper treatment. But the government would not allow any party representative to assess her health condition.

“Khaleda Zia is becoming paralysed. She is in need of advanced treatment. But the medical board does not dare to provide a medical report after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s speech, in which she claimed that Khaleda Zia is leading a lavish life inside the jail,” Zainul said.

He alleged that the government was trying to keep her in jail for political reasons.

However, in another press briefing, the pro-Awami League lawyers, led by Yusuf Hossain Humayun and barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, denied the allegations, saying the pro-BNP lawyers wanted to exert pressure on the court and create an unexpected situation in the highest court of the country, which amounted to contempt of court. They urged the Chief Justice to take legal action against all those who created anarchy within the courtroom.

AG Mahbubey Alam said that pro-BNP lawyers had indulged in unexpected and fascist behaviour inside the courtroom.

“Though the authorities had already prepared two cases for hearing the appeals, pro-BNP lawyers wanted the hearing of the bail petitions without any hearing on the appeals,” the AG said.

“Khaleda Zia is a convicted person. She committed offences and the court awarded her punishment. She sought bail. It is the court’s decision whether it will grant bail to Khaleda or not,” he added.

The AG also urged the Chief Justice not to allow any lawyers in the apex courtroom who were not enrolled in the Appellate Division in the next hearing which is scheduled to be held on Thursday.

Khaleda had moved the top court on November 14, challenging a High Court (HC) order that had turned down her bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

On September 11, an HC bench of Justices Farid Ahmed and ASM Abdul Mobin had rejected Khaleda’s bail petition in the case in which she is serving a 10-year sentence. Her bail petitions had been turned down twice before, on July 31 and September 3.

On August 8, 2011, the ACC had lodged the Zia Charitable Trust case with the Tejgaon police against four people, including Khaleda. They were accused of abusing power by raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.

A special court jailed the BNP chief and three others for seven years in the corruption case on October 29 last year. Khaleda later moved the HC, which increased her sentence by three more years.

MK/MK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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