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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Yunus removal upheld

HC rejects Nobel hero's petition against his ouster by govt from Grameen Bank; Yunus may appeal to SC today

The High Court yesterday upheld Bangladesh Bank's "removal" of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from the post of Grameen Bank's managing director.

He will appeal against the verdict with the Supreme Court, his lawyers said.

An HC bench summarily rejected two writ petitions filed challenging the legality of the central bank's order.

Delivering the verdict, the court said the microcredit pioneer's posting as the MD of Grameen Bank since 1999 was illegal as he reached the age of 60 by then.

The MD of Grameen Bank is an official who cannot hold the office for an unlimited period, it added.

The board of directors of Grameen Bank is the authority to appoint its MD with approval from Bangladesh Bank. But it did not happen in Yunus' case since 1999, the court said.

The HC bench of Justice Mohammad Momtazuddin Ahmed and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore observed that there was no substance in the writ petitions.

Details of the grounds on which the HC rejected the writ petitions could not be known immediately, since the copy of the verdict's full text was not released yesterday.

The Grameen Bank authorities expressed disappointment with the verdict.

Jannat-E-Quanine, general manager for information and media co-ordination of the institution, in a statement said, "We have received the order and are very disappointed. We are consulting with our lawyers about the next steps. We hope that in the meantime nothing will jeopardise the stability of Grameen Bank."

"Eight million borrowers and 26,000 members of Grameen Bank have brought the bank to this level through their hard work and are deeply involved in building the future for their children -- we hope nothing will disrupt that," it added.

Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, a counsel for Yunus, told journalists in his Supreme Court Bar chamber, "On hearing the verdict, Dr Yunus asked all his counsels whether he should move an appeal with the Supreme Court. All of us suggested going to the Supreme Court to challenge the High Court verdict."

"Dr Yunus might move a provisional leave to appeal before the chamber judge of the Appellate Division tomorrow," he said yesterday.

He said his client may continue in the office of MD of Grameen Bank until its board of directors appoints his successor, as per the Bangladesh Bank's "removal letter".

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam however told The Daily Star that Prof Yunus has no right to stay in the office following the HC verdict.

He claimed the Bangladesh Bank letter does not say that Yunus may continue as the MD until Grameen Bank board of directors appoints a replacement.

Rokanuddin said it is not a setback for Dr Yunus and he has not been reduced in honour. No-one is asking questions about Yunus but about what happened in court, he said.

He said Yunus' lawyers expressed to the High Court on Monday their apprehension that the writ petitions would be rejected, and the apprehension has become true through the judgement.

Rokan hoped that the Supreme Court will cancel the HC verdict after hearing the appeal.

There are many precedents in the history of judiciary that the Appellate Division set aside HC verdicts, he said.

"We believe in the rule of law, and the supremacy of the constitution, and we have full confidence in the Supreme Court that we will get justice," Rokan said.

Everything is still now in favour of Dr Muhammad Yunus, he added. "Ordinary people of Bangladesh treat Dr Yunus as a great hope and a matter of pride and achievement. There was no great man like Yunus in Bangladesh except Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," Rokan told the media.

"It is abnormal, unimaginable and surprising that the High Court passed the judgement without issuing any rule," said Barrister Sara Hossain, Yunus' another counsel, in an immediate reaction, terming the day as a sad one for the whole country.

In an SMS she said, "Today is a sad day for Bangladesh, and for all of us who practise before these courts. The government has attacked and vilified one of our most respected citizens, Prof Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for Bangladesh."

The government appears intent on seizing the Grameen Bank which Prof Yunus founded and built, she added.

"We are shocked but hardly surprised at today's order. We apprehended we would not get justice, and we have not got justice," she wrote.

The lawyer went on, "The court has upheld a grossly illegal order and made an extra-ordinary declaration that Prof Yunus' term of his office expired when he reached 60 in 1999. And that the central bank's clear audits of Grameen and their engagement with Prof Yunus for ten years since amount to nothing."

"If that's the case we should perhaps ask the Nobel Committee whether they would seize the Nobel Prize which was given to Prof Yunus in 2006," she quipped.

No senior counsel for Yunus was present in the court during the verdict delivery.

Dr Kamal Hossain, Mahmudul Islam, and Rokanuddin Mahmud argued for Yunus during the three days of hearing on the writ petitions.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam at a briefing in his office told reporters that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and adivasi leader Santu Larma should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for their contribution in establishing peace in the hills.

He said the board of directors of Grameen Bank decided in 1999 that Prof Yunus might hold the office of the MD as long as he wishes, which was contrary to the Grameen Bank Ordinance, 1983.

Yunus is now around 70, and according to section-36 of the ordinance, he cannot hold the office, he said adding that the retirement age for Grameen Bank officials is 60, which is also applicable to Yunus.

But Yunus stayed as the MD of Grameen Bank even after crossing the age of 60, without taking approval from Bangladesh Bank, he claimed.

Replying to the reaction of Sara Hossain, Mahbubey Alam said Yunus' Nobel Prize winning has nothing to do with him staying in the office of Grameen Bank MD.

"Is there any institution in the world whose officials have no retirement age?" he asked.

On March 3, Yunus filed a writ petition with the HC bench challenging the legality of a March 2 Bangladesh Bank letter that "removed" him from the post.

The same day nine elected members of the board of directors of Grameen Bank, who are poor rural women, filed another writ petition with the same bench against the central bank's "removal letter".

The petitioners prayed for a ruling on the government to explain as to why the Bangladesh Bank letter should not be declared illegal, and for a stay order on the effectiveness of the letter.

Senior judge of the bench, Justice Momtazuddin Ahmed, delivered the verdict for about an hour yesterday afternoon in a packed courtroom in presence of local and foreign journalists.

Meanwhile, speculation runs rife over the fate of a Grameen Bank without Yunus at the helm.

Khondaker Muzammel Huq, the government-appointed chairman of Grameen, told The Daily Star that he would soon hold a meeting of the board of directors and set the next course of action.

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A tragic sad day for poverty alleviation & microfinance world. Where we should go for justice?

: Dr Rahman

Most disgraceful event in the history of Bangladesh & more disgraceful in the sense that the AL government led by its chief took the initiative to defame Prof. Yunus just to satisfy one person's ego. The Attorney General.

: Chowdhry


  • Anonymous,USA
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 04:51 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    This verdict was predictable when the Judge Gobinda Chandra Tagore failed to come to the court due to traffic jam and the bench postponed the order until Tuesday. These judges were simply waiting for orders from above through the AG. When they were told what to do they gave the verdict. This is another example of who controls the judges and the courts.

  • Zashim
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:54 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The High Court has power to reject any petition with proper interpretation of law, stating on what ground and to what extent the petition heard is rejected. Well, there still is Appellate Division to see how well or unwell High Court division is in respect of performing constitutional duties.

    When Some institutions already brought allegation against the conduct of higher court, some heavy weight politicians claim judges should be accountable to the parliament, quality of judgment in terms of legal interpretation compared with other countries are questioned, our judges require to satisfy that they based on law-constitution otherwise people may think judgment reflects the regime they had been appointed under.

  • R Karim
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 03:38 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The removal of Dr Yunus isn't only political but also personal. Hasina, her family and party members do not like the idea that Dr Yunus is the most popular Bangladeshi EVER.

  • Kabir Ahmad
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 04:21 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    We have seen so many injudicious decisions of the courts including the supreme court of Bangladesh. Now we are observing lately that higher courts are being used for fulfillment of political agenda. We like to see our judicial system completely fair and above all sorts

    of political influence.

  • Hoque, London
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 04:49 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    I think Muhammad Yunus, don't need to go to Supreme Court.....he need to go to Hasina. Because her verdict will be Supreme Court verdict as well. I am feeling shame that I have voted this government.

  • Ashraf
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:29 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    After the Attorney General's comment on whom two persons should have the rightful claim to get the Nobel Peace Prize, is there any doubt about the true intention behind all these shameless acts of persecution against Yunus?

  • Kazi H.
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:45 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Join and let your r voice be heard....

  • Imran Khan
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:48 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Where do we stop now? More litigation,more international media attention, more dishonor to Bangladesh and Dr. Yunus. I think Dr. Yunus should show that he is the better person through his rational actions and by bringing unity among the people of Bangladesh rather than splitting them up and bring more shame to the country.

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:59 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh government is out of her mind!!!

  • Ihfaz Ahmed
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 01:06 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The day is still far away for us when our leaders will teach us by their actions how to rise above personal vendetta.

  • Shakil
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 01:17 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Isn't it obvious that HC is towing the lines of the Government. Perhaps Judiciary needs to ascertain itself in Bangladesh like it did in the neighbor country.

  • Expatriate Bangladeshi
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 02:17 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    We do not deserve to claim an honorable position in the world stage. A politics of vendetta, revenge and audacious claim for a Nobel prize led our our PM to damage the national image by insulting Yunus.

  • Md. Russell Talukder
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 03:35 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    We are so ashamed to see how our beloved Nobel Laureate is treated by our fellow men, whom we trusted with our life, honor, wealth, belief and dignity. Dr. Yunus, as a protest to the disgraceful behavior shown to you, please renounce the Nobel Award and apologize to public for receiving it.

  • Monika
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 05:56 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Simply unthinkable. Why the present AL government took such a step to humiliate a respectable person? But it will haunt this government and the AL in the future.

    How could Attorney General said that Sheikh Hasina should have won the Nobel Prize? Simply punitive and vindictive attitude of the party he represents! We should have basic decency in our political discourse.

  • Shuvo
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 06:20 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    We all knew possible out-come of the writ. Dr. Yunus should not have gone to the court because World does not know about court system, now whole world knows that BB's decision is right and Dr. Yunus is wrong! AL govt will say to the world we did not do anything wrong, look at the court verdict. As they are happily saying above line for every important court rules.

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 07:39 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    He should be replaced someday any how. So why not leave early with dignity. If he is indispensable to Grameen Bank, than why did he create an organization like that? If the bank cannot survive without him, the bank is a totally failure. We have to remember, that Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank both won Noble Prize, not him alone.

  • Kazi Ahmed
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 08:24 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The High Court has proved that they are not free. They echo the voice of the 'government'. Yunus's counsel rightly predicted that they will not get justice!

  • Kazi Ahmed from Canada
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 08:59 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The bench which upheld the Bangladesh Bank's removal as legal should have also mention in their verdict punishment for Bangladesh Bank governor as he let Mr Yunus 'illegally' hold the position of Managing Director.

    There is no instance that an MD of a Bank runs his office for even one hour without the approval of Bangladesh Bank. So if it was true that Mr Yunus ran his office 'illegally' for so many years all the governors of Bangladesh Bank are liable to be punished for their act of allowing him to be in office without any legal basis.

    The irony is that it is the Awami League government under whose tenure Prof Yunus started his journey of illegality in 1999.

  • Mayen Uddin Tazim, former Advisor, UNDP
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 09:23 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Nobody is the above of the law. Law should be run away in its own course of action and direction by following procedures, ethics and principle of judgment. It is surprising that an honorable person who won noble prize but he is not willing to leave the position of the Grameen Bank at the age of 70. It is real fact that Nobel Prize winning has nothing to do with him in holding the office of Grameen Bank's MD.

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:11 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Very disappointing verdict. A black day for our judiciary.

  • Tony
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:59 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    This is really unfair. Bangladeshi Government should remember that Dr. Yunus introduced Bangladesh as a hard working country throughout the world. Grameen Bank helped many poor people from rural areas to do better in their life. Now when Bangladeshi Govt saw this vast success they are trying to corrupt this organization. Bangladesh Govt has a name in the world as a corrupt country and think this will make BD Govt. even worst to the world. On top of that, he is a Noble Prize winner that also showed that he definitely have some factor, which made him a good man.

  • Shahid
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:37 PM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    This is one of the worst moment in the nation's history.

  • GR
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:04 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Shame...This is the time silent majority should wake up.

  • Dr. Nazmul Haq
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 01:00 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Shame on the politician who has orchestrated the removal of our pride and only Nobel laureate from Grameen Bank on technical ground. He has been removed from the bank because of spelling out the hard truth; that in Bangladesh the politicians does politics to enrich themselves. The present government agitated violently against the immediate past government accusing it's nepotism and politicization of every aspect of the administration where the government has sway over it. This government who has been elected with our votes is doing the same thing so that they can appoint their own people at Grammen Bank. Some members of this government has come out of indictment of corruption charges on technical ground and hence understands very well the usefulness of technicality in these kind of proceedings.

  • Anonymous in USA
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 05:52 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    The High Court judgment created two problems: 1. The future of the Grameen Bank borrowers is uncertain. The future Managing Director may not have the same mentality as Dr. Yunus. The nature of management may change. It may not have the same feeling for the borrowers as Dr. Yunus had. There may be psychological change in the minds of the borrowers.

    2. It may have repercussions in the international relations of Bangladesh. Already there is Friends of Grameen which supports Dr. Yunus. It may impact economic aid coming from foreign countries.

    All government actions may not be good for the country.

  • Mahiuddin Huq
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 07:09 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    Nobody is above law so is Prof. Yunus.

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam, Opee
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:31 AM GMT+06:00 (258 weeks ago)

    In recent days we have observed HC has taken on its shoulder the monumental task of clearing large number of cases; we have also observed with great confidence how the HC can make a difference in some of the cases where controversy was evident. Yet the HC came out with solutions by giving its opinion & firmly standing on it. During this govt, we have seen some serious effort by our judiciary to establish separation of judiciary from executives. We just like to see its continuation. Justice must be held on all occasions.





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