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Immediate release unlikely

SC upholds Khaleda's bail

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17th-May-2018       
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Staff Reporter :
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the High Court order that granted bail to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust case.
However, the apex court's bail order does not allow the BNP chief Khaleda Zia to be freed from jail right now, as she has been shown arrested in some other cases, both the prosecution and defence lawyers opined.
The High Court on March 12 granted four months bail to former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust case, in which she is currently serving a five-year jail term.
After dismissing two appeal petitions filed by the government and the
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against the HC order, the Appellate Division also directed the High Court bench led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim to hear and dispose of Khaleda's appeal against the sentence by July 31.
In a jam-packed courtroom, the four-judge bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain
delivered the judgement saying "both the appeals are dismissed."
After the apex court order, Khaleda's lawyer Advocate A J Mohammad Ali prayed the copy of the short order. But the Supreme Court refused to deliver the order saying that there was no past record of delivering the copy of the short order by the apex court.
Mohammad Ali told the court that they wanted the copy of the short order to submit to the authorities concerned so that the BNP chief could be freed immediately from jail.
Attorney General (AG) Mahbubey Alam opposed his submission saying that there was no instance of giving short order copy by the top court.
The Supreme Court also said, "There was no system in the Supreme Court rules to give the copy of the short order. So, your application for short order copy has been rejected."
 "You will get copy of the apex court soon," the court said.
Then, A J Mohammad Ali told the court that he had not come with any group but alone.
Then Chief Justice Mahmud Hossain said, "We don't pass any order by considering any group."
After the apex court's bail order, AG Mahbubey Alam told reporters that there was no scope for Khaleda to delay the trial proceedings of the case in the High Court as the apex court directed the HC to dispose of the appeal by July 31.
 "We will take preparation as quick as possible for the High Court hearing," he said.
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan also told reporters that the Appellate Division ordered the court to settle the appeal by July 31. "We must follow the order. We'll request the High Court that we are getting ready to begin hearing the appeal," he said.
Regarding her release from jail, the AG said, Khaleda cannot be released from jail even after the apex court judgement as she is shown arrested in other cases. The home ministry knows regarding this. If she is arrested in other cases, she won't be released, the AG said.
Asked to comment on Khaleda's four-month bail, the chief law officer of the state said: "The four months will be counted from the day when the High Court granted her bail. And the days when the bail was stayed in the Appellate Division will be deducted from the four-month period."
The HC granted her bail on March 12 and the Appellate Division stayed the HC order on March 14, which continued till yesterday.
On the other hand, BNP lawyer Moudud Ahmed told reporters that BNP chief would have to take bail in a few other cases, despite the bail upheld by the Supreme Court as the government had already shown her arrested in few other cases.
However, he said that it would be easy for Khaleda Zia to secure bail from the lower court as the Appellate Division has upheld her bail. "We'll try hard to secure her [Khalda] bail quickly. We have to complete this following a legal process. Khaleda Zia will return to us after getting bail. She will come back soon," he said.
Responding to a query, Moudud said, Khaleda Zia is accused in seven cases in which she is shown arrested. Among them, three are in Cumilla, two in Dhaka, and one each in Narail and Panchagarh. There are orders to show her arrested in those suits, he added.
Khaleda Zia is currently facing 36 cases. Among them, she have been shown arrested in seven cases in line with the lower court order, Advocate Sanaullah Miah, another counsel for Khaleda Zia told.
BNP Legal Affairs Secretary Kayser Kamal, expressed satisfaction over the judgment and said that the BNP chief got justice from the Supreme Court. He also hoped that Khaleda Zia will be released soon if the government doesn't interfere. We will move the court seeking her bail in other cases, in which she was being shown arrested in the meantime, he added.
The ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust case with Ramna Police Station in July 2008, accusing the six persons including Khaleda Zia on charges of misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.
On February 8, the Dhaka Special Court-5 convicted the BNP chief and sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust Fund embezzlement case. She was then sent to old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city.
The court also sentenced Khaleda's elder son Tarique Rahman, now in the UK, and four others to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment each, and fined them a total of Tk 2.10 crore, saying that all the convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts.
Following the BNP chief moved against the lower court verdict, the HC on March 12 granted Khaleda Zia four months' bail.
Later, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government filed two petitions challenging the High Court order. Full bench of the Appellate Division on March 14 stayed the High Court order considering those two petitions, and the tenure of the stay order was extended to May 8 later.
After hearing on two leave to appeal petitions, the Supreme Court yesterday granted her bail.

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