Appellate Division’s six judges spent idle time during Thursday’s court hours except for 30 minutes as lawyers held demonstrations protesting at deferring former prime minister and BNP chairperson’s bail application hearing.
The lawyers held the demonstration inside the chief justice’s courtroom for deferring the scheduled hearing until December 12.
It was for the second time that hearing Khaleda Zia’s bail application had been deferred.
A bench chaired by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain deferred the hearing after attorney general Mahbubey Alam prayed for time to file Khaleda Zia’s health report.
On November 28, the bench adjourned hearing Khaleda’s bail hearing until December 5 and directed the vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University to form a medical board to ascertain her latest health condition and submit the report by December 5.
On Thursday, the court directed the BSMMU VC again to submit the report by December 11 as he failed to submit it on Thursday.
The court rejected Khaleda Zia’s defence lawyer Zainul Abedin’s repeated request to allow him to read out a report he had obtained unofficially from BSMMU as the attorney general opposed placing the unofficial report saying how they could get ‘the confidential report’.
The court said that it would examine the report only after getting the report from the BSMMU VC.
The court also rejected Zainul’s second prayer to the court to hear the bail application on December 8 instead of December 12 on humanitarian ground saying that she was almost dead.
As the attorney general responded to Zainul saying ‘Who said Khaleda is dying’, her other lawyers shouted at him saying ‘shame’ ‘shame’.
The lawyers shouted again uttering ‘shame’ ‘shame’ after Zainul Abedin quoted the prime minister as saying on Wednesday that ‘Khaleda spends her time in jail just like a King’.
As the chief justice spoke on the microphone to tell the protesting lawyers that unless the calm down Khaleda’s bail application would not be heard, the lawyers chanted together ‘We want justice and the court would not be allowed to hear any matter unless it hears Khaleda Zia’s bail application’.
Failing to pacify the lawyers, half an hour later, the chief justice left the courtroom at 10AM, just an hour before the recess and the other judges followed him.
The lawyers shouted, ‘dalal, dalal’. The junior lawyers requested seniors including Zamiruddin Sircar, Khandker Mahbub Hossain, Mainul Hosein, Zainul Abedin, AJ Mohammad Ali, Moudud Ahmed and Nitai Roy Chowdhury, seated in the front row, not to leave the courtroom until the court heard Khaleda’s application and granted her bail during the day’s court hours.
The juniors distributed chocolates among the colleagues present in the courtroom.
The attorney general, two additional attorneys general, deputy attorneys general and assistant attorneys general present at the brief hearing accompanied by fellow pro ruling Awami League lawyers were silent during the demonstrations chanting the slogan’ ‘We want justice and freedom of Khaleda Zia’.
Pro-AL lawyers led by Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, MP, took out a procession in the Supreme Court Bar Association Building in protest against the sit in demonstration held by Khaleda’s lawyers inside the courtroom.
Later, the pro-AL lawyers entered the courtroom when the chief justice returned to the courtroom with his colleagues after 90 minutes and Taposh requested the protesting lawyers to leave the courtroom but none left or gave up their sit in demonstration.
As the court sat after the recess, Zainul Abedin requested it to hear Khaleda’s bail application but the chief justice rejected his request saying the order had been passed, ‘We will not hear you.’
As the court took up another matter for hearing it could not proceed amidst the slogan chanting lawyers demonstrations, ‘We want justice.’
The chief justice and his five colleagues spent the remaining court hours keeping mum from 11:30 AM to 1:15PM when the court hours ended. The chief justice was heard uttering, ‘Exceeding limit is no good.’
The chief justice looked pale during the lawyers demonstrations in the packed courtroom.
Huge contingent of police both in uniform and in plainclothes were deployed in the corridors.
Later, the attorney general flanked by pro-AL lawyers at a news briefing said that Khaleda Zia’s lawyers held the judges ‘hostage’ in an unprecedented manner and demanded contempt proceedings against them.
He said that Khaleda Zia’s lawyers were pressuring the court to a decision in their favour.
Khandaker Mahbub Hossain and Moudud Ahmed accused the government and the attorney general for forcing the protests by repeatedly deferring hearing Khaleda Zia’s bail application by interfering in court proceedings.
On November 14, Khaleda’s lawyers prayed for her bail in the Zia Charitable Trust Case and appealed against the High Court’s order that had rejected her application on July 31.
Khaleda’s bail was sought after her sister Selima Islam visited her at the hospital and later she told reporters that Khaleda Zia’s fingers and toes became deformed needing treatment abroad.
Her lawyers submitted that by denying her bail the High Court broke the long standing convention that requires granting bail to women considering their age and health condition.
They submitted Khaleda had been in jail for over 21 months.
On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case against her with the Tejgaon police station and on October 29, 2018, a special court in Dhaka jailed her for seven years in the Zia Charitable Trust Case.
She also appealed against the HC verdict increasing her jail term from five years to 10 in the Zia Orphanage Trust Case as requested by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
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