Khaleda, Tarique, others file writs

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] Cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission against former prime minister Khaleda Zia, her sons Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman, her cabinet colleagues Moudud Ahmed and Nazmul Huda and Nazmul’s wife Sigma Huda were challenged in the High Court Thursday. Six writ petitions challenging the cases were filed that would be heard one after another by the High Court bench of Justice Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman and Justice Zobayer Rahman Chowdhury next week.

After filing Khaleda’s writ, her counsel Rafique-ul Huq told reporters the writ might be heard Sunday. As Khaleda, BNP chairperson, is in jail, Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas filed the writ petition through a power of attorney with permission from the bench.

The petition was filed challenging the government and the ACC’s move of bringing the GATCO graft case against Khaleda, Arafat and 11 others in the ambit of the apparently unassailable Emergency Powers Rules.

Arafat also filed a separate writ petition challenging the same issue.

Moudud, Nazmul and Tarique filed three writ petitions challenging the legality of the cases the commission filed against them for amassing illegal wealth and concealing facts in their wealth statements.

Sigma HUda filed another writ petition challenging the commission’s case against her husband, Nazmul Huda, in which she was accused of abetting Nazmul in his crimes.

ACC deputy director ,Golam Shahriar Chowdhury, filed the corruption case on September 2 with the Tejgaon police against 13 people, including Khaleda and Arafat for awarding a contract to “an incompetent and unfit firm, GATCO,” to handle containers at the Inland Container Depot in Dhaka and at Chittagong port allegedly in exchange of bribes. The police arrested Khaleda and Arafat the next day.

In their petitions, Khaleda and Arafat claimed the commission and the government had brought the case under the Emergency Powers Rules in violation of the constitution and law.

As the alleged crime was committed much earlier than the enforcement of the Emergency Powers Rules and the Emergency Powers Ordinance, under which the rules were framed, the case cannot be brought under the emergency rules, the petitions said.

In the petitions, they sought ad interim bail and stay on the proceedings of the case under the Emergency Powers Rules.

On similar grounds, the same High Court bench on July 30 and August 7 issued two rules on the government asking it to explain the legality of bringing two extortion cases against Sheikh Hasina, former prime minister and Awami League president, filed by two businessmen, Azam J Chowdhury and Noor Ali, under the emergency rules, would not be declared illegal. The court also ordered the government not to proceed with the cases under the emergency rules and granted Hasina ad interim bail after hearing two writ petitions filed by Hasina. The petitions are still pending with the court.

Four other writ petitions, filed by Moudud, Huda, Tarique and Sigma were the first-ever petitions challenging the legality of any case filed by the commission for amassing illegal wealth and concealing information in wealth statements.

Hasina, however, filed one writ petition challenging legality of the commission’s notification, issued on July 17 asking her to submit her wealth statement and the same High Court bench on August 7 issued a rule on the commission to explain he legality of the notification. The case is still pending.