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SC allows govt appeal, stays Hasina verdict PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

SC allows govt appeal, stays Hasina verdictAgency

The Appellate Division has stayed a High Court verdict that quashed Azam J Chowdhury's extortion case against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

A full appellate bench headed by chief justice Md Ruhul Amin stayed the High Court's dismissal of the case Tuesday after accepting the government's leave to appeal against the verdict, and set March 16 for hearing to begin on the appeal.

The Appellate Division also temporarily upheld the High Court's ban on proceedings of the extortion case in trial court.

Additional attorney general Salahuddin Ahmed, standing for the government, told outside the court: "The court has only stayed the case proceedings against Sheikh Hasina in trial court."

"This has removed the barrier to conducting trials of other cases under emergency powers rules."

Hasina's lawyer Rafique-ul-Huq said during the hearing: "The case filed against Sheikh Hasina refers to an occurrence which dates back to the pre-emergency period. Therefore, the case cannot be tried under the Special Powers Act."

Appealing to the appeal court not to stay the High Court's dismissal of the case, barrister Rafique said: "The court may accept the government appeal filed against the High Court verdict, but cannot halt the efficacy of the verdict."

"The verdict in question will be settled after hearing the appeal." Additional attorney general Salahuddin Ahmed, requesting the stay order, told the court: "The High Court in its verdict has raised questions concerning sections of the Special Powers Act."

"If the verdict is upheld, the Special Powers Act would have to be annulled, jeopardising the trial of all cases filed under the act." Salahuddin also mentioned a High Court ruling by a different bench, headed by Justice ABM Khairul Haque, that cancelled a separate writ petition challenging the validity of trying of another case under the Special Powers Act.

The High Court verdict in that case contradicts the same court's verdict in the Hasina case, Salahuddin said.

"The Supreme Court should resolve such legal contradictions," he said. Security remained stepped up at the Supreme Court premises Tuesday through the second day proceedings on the government's leave to appeal.

The government filed a motion with the Appellate Division on Feb 18 seeking leave to appeal the High Court verdict.

On Feb 6, the High Court dismissed the extortion case filed by Azam J Chowdhury against Hasina, after ruling illegal its inclusion under emergency powers rules.

The ruling came on a writ petition filed by Hasina challenging the case's trial under EPR.

Businessman Azam J Chowdhury filed the Tk 3 crore extortion case against Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Selim with Gulshan police on June 13, 2007.

The case details said the accused received a total of Tk 2.99 crore from the litigant in 2001 in exchange for illegally awarding a contract to build Siddhirganj Power Station.

Hasina was arrested on July 16, 2007. She was shown arrested in the case later the same day after inclusion of the case proceedings under EPR.

Charges were framed against the accused, including Sheikh Hasina's sister, Rehana, on Jan 13.

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