BNP chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s lawyer in a legal notice on Wednesday asked law ministry secretary to withdraw by September 8 a special order under which the government shifted her trial in the Zia Charitable Trust case inside the Old Dhaka Central Jail.
On her behalf, lawyer Muhammad Nawshad Zamir sent the legal notice to law ministry secretary ASSM Zahirul Haque by registered post.
The notice says, appropriate legal action would be taken against the law secretary for his failure to ‘revoke, cancel, and rescind the order by September 8’.
The notice called it absolutely illegal, without jurisdiction and lawful authority and totally unwarranted to hold the trial inside the jail.
It pointed out that Section 4(1)(q) of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the government to hold trial in a house, building, tent or vessel after declaring them as court but not in a prison.
The notice said that the special order was ‘void being infringing Article 35(3) of the Constitution of Bangladesh that guarantees every citizen accused of a criminal offence the inalienable fundamental right ‘to a speedy and public trial’.
The notice said that the government by shifting the sitting of the Special Court to a secluded room inside the entry-restricted old Dhaka Central Jail has robbed the trial of its open and ‘public’ character and veiled the court with a shroud of secretiveness, a vice prominently peculiar to a closed-door martial law court.
Earlier in the afternoon, her lawyers called shifting her trial inside the old Dhaka central jail as ‘illegal’ and decided to take legal action.
They said that trial could not be held inside the jail according to Article 35 (3) of the constitution.
Referring to the Article, Khaleda Zia’s lawyer Zainul Abedin told reporters that a trial must be held in public by an independent and impartial Court or tribunal established by law.
Zainul Abedin, also the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, briefed reporters after meeting senior lawyers.
Zainul said that a trial by a court inside the jail cannot be called public trial as public has no access to it.
He said that the trial was shifted to a 24feet by 26feet darkroom inside the jail.
He said that Khaleda, who is ill, was illegally and unconstitutionally forced to appear in this so-called court.
Zainul said that there was no precedence of setting courts inside the jail even during the era of Pakistan.
Asked for comments attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters no illegality had been committed by shifting her trial inside the jail.
He said that Khaleda Zia’s lawyers would gain nothing out of legal action they were planning to take.
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