Khaleda’s writ hearing against new makeshift court adjourned

Dhaka, May 25 – The High Court (HC) on Tuesday adjourned till June 10 the hearing on a writ petition filed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia challenging the legality of the government’s move to shift her trial in the Niko graft case to the Central Jail in Keraniganj, from the now defunct jailhouse in Old Dhaka.
The HC bench comprising Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice Md Khairul Alam adjourned the hearing after brief hearing on the petition.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan, counsel for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), told reporters that the High Court adjourned the hearing till June 10 as petitioner’s counsel did not produce sufficient documents before it.
Khan also said that there is no legal bar for the special court for holding trial of the Niko graft case as the HC did not pass any stay order on the government notification.
Barrister Moudud Ahmed and Advocate AJ Mohammad Ali appeared for Khaleda while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam argued for the state.
Earlier on Monday, the HC bench allowed the ACC to become a party in the writ petition following a petition filed by the ACC.
The BNP chairperson, on Sunday, filed the writ petition seeking a stay on the effectiveness of the government’s notification, which said that the trial would be conducted in a makeshift court in Keraniganj.
On May 12, the law ministry, in a gazette notification, said that the trial proceedings of 17 cases involving Khaleda Zia, including the Niko graft case, would be held in a special court in the Keraniganj Central Jail in Dhaka due to security concerns.
In her petition, the BNP chief has said that the notification violated articles 17 and 31 of the Constitution, along with Section 9(1) and (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The trial in the Niko case in a room in the Keraniganj jail cannot be a public trial and it is against the Constitution and the CrPC. Hence, the gazette is “illegal and unconstitutional,” the petition said.
On May 21, barrister Kayser Kamal sent a legal notice on behalf of the BNP chief to the government, challenging the circular on shifting the trials to the court in the Keraniganj jail.
The former Prime Minister has been in jail since February last year after she was convicted on corruption charges. Her party claims that the cases against her are politically motivated and accuses the government of plotting to keep her out of national politics – a charge the government has denied.
Khaleda has been receiving treatment at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) for various health complications since April 1.
Earlier this month, the home minister said Khaleda would be taken to the Keraniganj jail after her treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
The old Central Jail, where she had been kept, will be converted into a museum, he told reporters. – Staff Reporter