[Dhaka Correspondent] High Court Wednesday declared illegal the ACC notice asking the wealth statement of detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina. The High Court bench of Justice Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman and Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury delivered the verdict after hearing a writ petition filed by Hasina, Awami League president, challenging the commission’s notification issued on her July 17. ACC may appeal against the High Court verdict.
“We still have the scope to appeal against the verdict and the commission will decide on the issue at its meeting Thursday,” ACC chairman Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury told newsmen Wednesday. “It is not a big issue. There was nothing wrong in notifying Sheikh Hasina. We are not disheartened with the High Court verdict. It is a legal matter and we will face it in legal process.”
In the verdict, the court observed that the commission did not follow due process of law in notifying Sheikh Hasina.
According to the law, the commission, after conducting preliminary inquiries, has to be convinced that a person is possessing wealth beyond his/her known sources of income before asking the person concerned to submit wealth report, the court pointed out adding that no such inquiry was conducted before notifying Hasina.
ACC deputy director Mubara Khanam on July 17, a day after Hasina was arrested by joint forces at her Dhanmandi residence in connection with an extortion case, notified former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to submit their wealth statements within seven working days. Hasina on July 19 sent a hand-written letter to ACC, saying that the notice was “full of errors” and she would not submit her wealth report until ACC issued a fresh notice after making necessary corrections.
ACC, after examining the notice, observed that it was issued in accordance with the law and there was no error either in the notice or in the form attached to it. Hasina finally accepted the notice and applied to ACC, seeking extension of the time limit for submission of her wealth statement. The commission accordingly extended the time limit by seven more working days.
The same High Court bench on August 7, after hearing the writ petition filed by Hasina, stayed operation of the commission’s notification and issued a rule on the commission to explain why the notice would not be declared illegal. The commission appealed against the High Court order and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on August 27 ordered Hasina to submit her wealth report to the commission. The Appellate Division also ordered the High Court to dispose of the writ petition after hearing.
Hasina submitted her wealth statement to the commission on September 3. The commission also started investigation into her wealth and suspended the investigation on October 24, as Hasina issued a legal notice on October 18.