Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper

Khaleda's candidacy

CJ assigns new HC bench to hear pleas

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Staff Reporter :
Chief Justice (CJ) Syed Mahmud Hossain on Wednesday assigned a new High Court (HC) bench to dispose of three writ petitions filed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia challenging the Election Commission's order that upheld the Returning Officers' decision rejecting her nomination papers submitted for Bogura-6, Bogura-7 and Feni-1 Constituencies.
The High Court bench of Justice J B M Hassan will hear the petitions, said Supreme Court's spokesperson and Special Officer (SO) Md Saifur Rahman.
On Tuesday, a two-member High Court bench passed dissenting order on three writ petitions filed by Khaleda Zia.
The senior judge of the bench ruled in favor of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's participation in the upcoming election, while the junior judge disagreed with him.
Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed, the senior judge of the bench, directed the EC to accept the nomination papers of Khaleda Zia and allow her to contest     
 in the December 30 general elections.
The judge also issued a rule asking the EC to explain as to why its decision on the nomination papers of Khaleda Zia should not be declared illegal.
Meanwhile, Justice Md Iqbal Kabir, the junior judge of the bench, disagreed with the senior judges' order.
Following the dissenting order on three writ petitions, the High Court judges sent all the three appeals and the judges' orders to the Chief Justice for assigning another one-member High Court bench for final hearing and disposal of the petitions.
Sources said, earlier yesterday, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain sent the dissenting order on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's writ petitions to the High Court bench judges and asked them to write the orders in detail.
The two-member High Court bench was asked to include the reasons behind their orders, the CJ said.
The Chief Justice made the decision as the judges sent the dissenting order in a concise manner, Special Officer of the Supreme Court Md Saifur Rahman told the reporters. After receiving the dissenting order in details the CJ assigned the new bench for disposal of the petitions, he said.
Khaleda Zia, a former Prime Minister, on December 9 filed the three separate writ petitions also seeking HC directives on the EC to accept the nomination papers so that she can run from Bogura-6, Bogura-7 and Feni-1.
Citing the petitions, Zainul Abedin, a lawyer for the BNP chief, told that the EC rejected Khaleda's appeals on the grounds of violating the electoral code of conduct. But the question of Khaleda's violating the code does not arise as she has been in jail since February, the counsel pointed out.
On October 29, Khaleda was convicted and sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment by a special court in Dhaka in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. Khaleda landed in jail being sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Trust case by the same court on February 8. The High Court later extended her jail terms in the case to 10 years.
A High Court bench last week made an observation that an accused sentenced to more than two years in jail cannot contest in an election even if an appeal against the sentence remains pending. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court did not interfere in the observation.
Khaleda's lawyer A J Mohammad Ali told the High Court that the EC was not performing independently and the Returning Officers were being directed by the government.
The lawyer added if the EC was independent, its decisions would have been different, as it happened to the nomination papers submitted by ruling Awami League-led alliance candidates--- Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Pankaj Debnath, and Nazmul Huda.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the writ petitions saying that Khaleda Zia cannot be allowed to contest in the election as per article 66(2)(d) of the Constitution as she has been convicted and sentenced to 10 years and seven years' imprisonment in two separate corruption cases. Article 66(2)(d) stipulates, "A person shall be disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of Parliament who has been, on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release."

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