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HC stays Niko case against Khaleda for 2 months

Quashes proceedings against family members of several graft suspects

The High Court (HC) yesterday stayed the proceedings of the Niko corruption case against detained BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for two months.

Another HC bench, meanwhile, quashed case proceedings against the family members of several corruption suspects including former foreign minister M Morshed Khan, former deputy minister Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu and ex-Awami League lawmaker Kamal Ahmed Majumder.

The HC bench of Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Mashuque Hosain Ahmed issued a ruling asking the government and the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) to explain within two weeks why the Niko case proceedings should not be quashed, following a writ petition filed by Khaleda.

The same HC bench on July 7 stayed for two months the proceedings of the Niko and barge-mount power plant cases against former premier Sheikh Hasina. The court also issued separate rules asking the government and the ACC to explain within four weeks why the cases should not be quashed.

The government, however, filed separate petitions with the Supreme Court (SC) to vacate the HC orders on Tuesday. Hearing of the petitions will be held in the full bench of the Appellate Division today.

The HC bench yesterday directed Khaleda Zia's counsels to dispose of the rule in two months saying that if the rule is not disposed of within the period, the stay order will be vacated.

Khaleda's counsel advocate Khandker Mahbub Uddin Ahmed told journalists that the HC stayed the case proceedings and issued the rules on the grounds that the ACC didn't follow due procedures and provisions of the ACC Act, 2004 and the ACC Rules, 2007 for giving permission to file the case.

ACC's counsel advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star that the HC issued the ruling to examine whether the commission gave permission for filing the case following due process of law.

He also said the ACC would file an appeal with the SC against the HC order as soon as possible.

"The High Court has stayed the proceedings of Niko graft case against Khaleda Zia and issued the ruling. We are bound to comply with the order but we shall challenge it in the Supreme Court immediately," he added.

The ACC filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station against Khaleda Zia and several others on December 9 last year on charges of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko.

Khaleda Zia filed the writ petition on July 7 for quashing the case pending with the Special Judge's Court-9 set up on the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises and also staying the case proceedings.

Following the petition, the HC on Tuesday asked the ACC to submit the relevant documents on its (ACC) permission for filing the Niko corruption case against Khaleda Zia to the court yesterday. The commission submitted the documents to the court following the order.

OTHER CASES QUASHED
The HC yesterday quashed corruption proceedings against the wife and the daughter-in-law of former foreign affairs minister M Morshed Khan, the wives of ex-Awami League lawmaker Kamal Ahmed Majumder, erstwhile deputy minister for land Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu and ward commissioner Abdul Kaiyum and the son of Jamuna Group chairman Nurul Islam Babul.

The HC bench of Justice Mohammad Abdur Rashid and Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam returned the verdicts following writ petitions to that end.

The ACC had filed corruption cases against Morshed Khan, his son Faisal Morshed Khan, Kamal Majumder, Dulu, Kaiyum and Babul on charges of building up huge wealth through illegal means and concealing information on their assets in statements to the watchdog.

Morshed Khan's wife Nasrin Khan and daughter-in-law Shyama Shezan Khan, Kamal Majumder's wife Shahida Kamal, Dulu's wife Sabina Yasmin, Kaiyum's wife Shamim Ara Begum and Babul's son Shamim Islam were accused in the cases for allegedly aiding and abetting the principal accused.

They later filed writ petitions challenging the legality of the case proceedings against them, following which the HC ruled on the government and the ACC to explain why the proceedings against the petitioners should not be quashed.

The HC bench reached the verdicts after hearing arguments from the defence and the prosecution.

Vowing to appeal against the HC judgments in the Appellate Division, ACC's lawyer advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told reporters that the HC quashed the case proceedings on the grounds that the watchdog had filed the cases without issuing notices on the petitioners.

ACC Assistant Director Talebor Rahman filed two cases--one against M Morshed Khan, his wife Nasrin and the other against Morshed's son Faisal and his wife Shyama--with Gulshan Police Station on December 10, 2007.

The complainant in his first case alleged that the former foreign minister had concealed information about his property worth Tk 91.34 lakh from the commission.

The ACC filed the graft case against Kamal Majumder and his wife Shahida with Ramna Police station on September 24, 2007.

The commission laid the case against Dulu and his wife with Adabor Police Station on April 19 last year and against Kaiyum and his wife with Badda Police Station on March 24 this year.

The case against Babul and his son were filed with Ramna Police Station on August 20 last year.

Barrister Rafique-ul Huq, barrister Ajmalul Hossain and advocate Ahsanul Karim appeared for the petitioners.

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