The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 16) upheld the High Court order that had granted bail to Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. A four-member bench of the Appellate Division, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order after hearing two leave-to-appeal petitions filed over the issue, local media reports said.
The SC also issued an order to dispose of the appeal petitions by Jul 31. After hearing arguments on Tuesday, the Appellate Division set Wednesday to deliver its order on the two petitions filed challenging Khaleda's bail granted by the High Court. Earlier on Tuesday morning, the Attorney General appealed to the court for holding more arguments in the case.
On May 9 last, a four-member Appellate Division bench, led by the Chief Justice, fixed Tuesday for delivering the order after closing a two-day hearing on the two petitions. On May 8, the SC adjourned until May 9 the hearing on the petitions filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the state against Khaleda's bail.
On Mar 19, the Appellate Division stayed Khaleda's bail until May 8 in the graft case in which she was convicted by the lower court.
The Dhaka Special Court-5 convicted the former Prime Minister and BNP chief and sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. She was then sent to old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city on Feb 8.
She secured four months' bail from the High Court in the case on Mar 12.
On Mar 15, the ACC and the state filed two leave-to-appeal petitions before the Appellate Division challenging Khaleda's bail. Later, the Appellate Division stayed Khaleda's bail until May 8 in the case.
On Feb 8, the Special Judge's Court-5 of Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to jail after it had found her and five others guilty in the graft case. 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.
The ACC had filed the case with Ramna Police Station in July 2008, accusing the six of misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.
Meanwhile, Khaleda's counsel and former law minister Barrister Moudud Ahmed told reporters that, as his client is yet to secure bail in some more cases, she will not be able to come out of jail right now.