BNP questions HC jurisdiction on dialogue

Airing its doubt about the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue rule over holding a dialogue between the chiefs of two major political parties, the main opposition BNP on Wednesday said it is the duty of the government to take initiatives for talks to break the ongoing political deadlock.

“We don’t know whether the High Court rule over the dialogue is applicable for us,” BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference.

“We need to know how far the High Court can go in engaging political parties in dialogue. We need to understand weather these issues fall within the High Court’s jurisdiction,” he added.

Fakhrul came up with his party’s stance while reacting to Wednesday’s HC rule upon a public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition that asked Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to explain why they should not be asked to sit for a dialogue to break the prevailing political stalemate over the upcoming general election.

The BNP spokesperson said his party has long been pressing for a dialogue to resolve the current political standoff following the annulment of the constitutional provision for holding the general election under a non-party caretaker government.

“After the annulment of the caretaker government system through the 15th amendment, our leader Khaleda Zia asked the government to shun this destructive move and iron out the political problems through talks. But the government didn’t pay heed to it,” he recalled.

Fakhrul said the onus now lies with the government to take initiatives for a dialogue with the political parties to solve the crisis. “And they (government) will have to do it.”

The High Court earlier on the day asked why ruling Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and opposition BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia would not be ordered to start a dialogue to ensure a free and fair national election.

The vacation bench of Justice Nizamul Huq and Justice Zafar Ahmed issued the rule after hearing a petition filed by Yunus Ali Akhand, a lawyer known for filing public interest petitions.

The court has also asked the Home Secretary to respond to the rule within four weeks.

Akhand had filed the petition on March 14.

At the hearing, the lawyer argued that over 150 people had died in the recent countrywide violence apparently triggered by the current political deadlock. He said an order was necessary to force the two leading ladies to dialogue for the sake of a free, fair and acceptable national election.

The BNP-led opposition alliance had been on the streets demanding restoration of the old neutral caretaker system to oversee the parliament elections ever since the government scrapped the caretaker government provision through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Amid the standoff, various quarters have been advocating talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia to end the deadlock.

Awami League General Secretary and LGRD minister Syed Ashraful Islam has recently said his party was ready for talks with the BNP but insisted that the opposition must speak without any pre-conditions.

During a recent rally in Manikganj, Khaleda Zia dismissed the possibilities of talks and called for intensified agitation to oust the government.

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