HC shuts door on Khaleda’s polls bid

Staff Correspondent

The High Court yesterday summarily rejected BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s three writ petitions challenging the Election Commission decision that upheld the cancellation of her nomination papers by returning officers.

Now Khaleda cannot contest the December 30 election, Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain Sazu told The Daily Star.

The HC turned down the petitions, saying the EC rightly upheld the ROs’ decision to cancel Khaleda’s nomination papers for Feni-1, and Bogura-6 and 7, as she was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in jail in two corruption cases, he said.

The court passed the order citing that if a person is convicted and sentenced to more than two years in prison for moral turpitude, he or she is not eligible to participate in elections in five years after serving the jail term, Sazu mentioned.

Talking to this correspondent, Bodruddoza Badal, a counsel for Khaleda, said they were yet to decide on moving an appeal on her behalf before the Supreme Court, challenging the HC order.

The HC bench of Justice JBM Hassan passed the rejection order after hearing arguments from Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

None of Khaleda’s lawyers was present to place arguments at the hearing on the writ petitions.

Earlier, the same HC bench rejected Khaleda’s petition expressing “no-confidence” in the bench assigned by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain to dispose of the three writ petitions.

Khaleda’s lawyers AJ Mohammad Ali and Bodruddoza Badal submitted the “no confidence” petition to the HC bench, requesting it to send her writ petitions to the CJ.

The judge rejected the “no confidence” petition, and said the CJ assigned the bench to hear and dispose of the petitions. He asked Khaleda’s lawyers to start placing arguments on the writ petitions.

Ali then requested the bench to adjourn the hearing and send the petitions to the CJ.

The bench turned down the plea and asked him to place arguments, saying it would be held accountable if the petitions were not heard and disposed of.

At this, Khaleda’s lawyers left the courtroom.

Talking to this correspondent, Badal said Khaleda has no confidence in the bench of Justice Hassan as he is junior to Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed, who presided over the two-member HC bench that passed dissenting orders on the three petitions.

A judge, who is senior to Justice Refaat, should hear the petitions, he added.

On December 11, the HC bench of Justice Refaat and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir Lytton passed split orders on the three petitions.

Justice Refaat, senior judge of the bench, stayed for three months the EC’s rejection of her appeals against cancellation of the nomination papers for Bogura-6, 7 and Feni-1.

The judge ordered the EC and the ROs to allow Khaleda to complete all necessary formalities to contest the December 30 polls.

He also issued a rule asking the EC and the government to explain in two weeks why Khaleda should not be allowed to run and why the decisions of the ROs and the EC about her nominations should not be declared illegal.

On the other hand, Justice Iqbal, junior judge of the bench, summarily rejected the writ petitions on four grounds, including one that Khaleda’s petitions were not acceptable as she was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison in two cases.

The bench then sent the petitions, along with the orders, to the CJ for a decision.

On December 12, the CJ assigned the HC bench of Justice Hassan to hear and dispose of the petitions.

Khaleda landed in jail on February 8 after a special court in Dhaka sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. The HC later extended her jail term to 10 years.

On October 29, she was sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment by the same court in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.

3 BNP MEN LOSE CANDIDACY

A total of 11 BNP candidates have lost candidacy following orders from the SC and HC in the last two days.

Yesterday, the apex court gave orders, disqualifying BNP contenders M Rashiduzzaman Millat, Tahsina Rushdir Luna and Syed Jahangir Alam from contesting the polls from Jamalpur-1, Sylhet-2 and Dinajpur-3.

A seven-member SC bench headed by the CJ passed the orders following separate petitions filed by three of their rival candidates.

On Monday, eight other BNP candidates lost candidacy following SC and HC orders.

They are Khondokar Abu Ashfaq for Dhaka-1, Tamiz Uddin for Dhaka-20, Abdul Muhit Talukder for Bogura-3, Sarkar Badal and Morshed Milton for Bogura-7, Nadim Mostafa for Rajshahi-5, Afroza Khan for Manikganj-3 and Abdul Hannan for Chandpur-1.

Source: The Daily Star.

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