The Dhaka Senior Special Judge’s court on Wednesday directed the authorities concerned to publish a notice in newspaper asking former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and 10 others to appear before the court in a graft case that involves suspicious loans from Farmers Bank.
The judge of the court, KM Emrul Kayesh, passed the order against the 11, including the former CJ and six officials of Farmers Bank, now renamed Padma Bank, over a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission on charge of laundering Tk 4 crore from the bank, said ACC public prosecutor Jahangir Alam.
On January 5, the same court issued warrants for the arrest of the 11 accused, all absconding, taking the charge sheet into cognisance and directed police to submit a report on the development by Wednesday, he said.
The public prosecutor said that the court asked the authorities concerned to publish a notice on newspaper as the police on Wednesday submitted report showing them absconding.
The anti-graft body’s investigation officer Benzir Ahmed on December 9, 2019 filed charge sheet in the case against the 11 accused.
On July 10, 2019, the ACC director Sayed Iqbal Hossain filed the first ever graft case against a former chief justice of the country and others.
Besides SK Sinha, the other accused are former Farmers Bank managing director AKM Shameem, first vice-presidents Swapan Kumar Roy and Shafiuddin Askaree, senior executive vice-president Gazi Salauddin, vice-president M Lutful Haque, bank’s entrepreneur director Md Mahbubul Haque Chisty alias Babul Chisty, bank clients Md Shahjahan, Niranjan Chandra Saha, his uncle Ranajit Chandra Saha, and Ranajit’s wife Santree Roy.
According to the allegation, Shahjahan and Niranjan took the amount on loan from the then Farmers Bank, which was later transferred to Justice Sinha’s Sonali Bank account, showing it was earned from selling his (Sinha’s) house.
On April 25, 2018, the commission started an inquiry into a complaint from an unknown source that Tk 4 crore was transferred to Justice SK Sinha’s bank account from two Farmers Bank accounts.
The inquiry began four months and a half after Justice Sinha resigned as the chief justice on November 10, 2017 amid serious controversies, following a unanimous Appellate Division verdict that upheld a High Court verdict striking down the 16th amendment to the constitution which restored the Jatiya Sangsad’s power to remove Supreme Court judges for misconduct or incapacity.
The unanimous verdict of the apex court penned down by chief justice SK Sinha created bitterness between him and the government.
Immediately after Justice Sinha’s resignation, law minister Anisul Huq said that the law would take its own course with regard to the 11 allegations brought against Justice Sinha by five Appellate Division judges.
Justice Sinha, now reportedly in the United States, sent his letter of resignation through the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Singapore while he was there on his way to Australia.
Lawyers said that Sinha’s departure from Bangladesh and his resignation occurred due to pressure mounted by the government.
On October 2, 2017, the law minister announced that Justice Sinha had expressed his desire to go on leave for a month with effect from October 3, 2017 saying that he was suffering from cancer and other diseases.
On October 3, 2017, the government announced that the next senior-most Appellate Division judge, Justice Wahhab Miah, would discharge the duties of the chief justice during Justice SK Sinha’s absence on ‘sick leave’.
A law ministry notification on October 12, 2017 extended his 30-day ‘sick leave’ until November 10, 2017.
On October 13, 2017, Justice Sinha flew for Australia.
While leaving his official residence for the airport on the day, Justice Sinha told the waiting reporters in a written statement that he was going abroad for the time being and would return soon.
On October 14, 2017, in an unprecedented statement, Supreme Court registrar general Syed Aminul Islam said that five fellow Appellate Division judges declined to share any bench with Justice Sinha after the president had handed to them documents regarding 11 specific allegations about corruption and irregularities committed by Justice Sinha.
The same statement said that the allegations against Justice Sinha included money laundering to foreign countries, financial irregularities, corruption and moral turpitude.
In August 2017, lawyers toeing the ruling Awami League’s political line held countrywide demonstrations demanding that the observations made in the verdict against the 16th amendment should be immediately withdrawn by Justice Sinha.
On August 1, 2017, the Appellate Division had released its full verdict on the 16th amendment.
Justice SK Sinha published a book titled ‘A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy’ in 2018 from the United States.
The former chief justice wrote in his book that he was forced to leave the country after he penned the unanimous verdict on the 16th amendment to the constitution.
Justice SK Sinha also claimed in the book that the money in question was transferred to his bank account as the sale proceeds of his house.
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