BSMMU won’t be able to give the BNP chief advanced treatment, following a court order, if she doesn’t give consent, says attorney general
The Supreme Court has rejected incarcerated BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case, prompting her party to express disappointment and announce protest programs for Sunday.
But the court has ordered the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital authorities to ensure her advanced treatment in line with the medical board’s recommendations, after getting her consent.
The full Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the orders yesterday, after hearing arguments from both sides.
The High Court on July 31 had rejected Khaleda’s bail petition in the graft case, prompting her counsels to move the apex court on November 14.
Security was beefed up in and around the Attorney General’s Office, Supreme Court Bar Association, and the Supreme Court, which saw much chaos on December 5 caused by Khaleda’s lawyers after the chief justice-led bench deferred the bail hearing to December 12.
Yesterday’s hearing started a day after BSMMU authorities submitted the updated medical report on Khaleda's health condition to the apex court.
Zainul Abedin and Khandaker Mahbub Hossain led Khaleda’s team of lawyers during the hearing, while Attorney General Mabubey Alalm the state and Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan stood for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which filed the case.
During the hearing, Zainul demanded bail for the BNP chief on humanitarian grounds while referring to the case of former Pakistani prime minister Newaz Sharif. “Even Pakistan’s higher court had granted bail to Newaz Sharif on medical grounds, and he was allowed to go to London for treatment.”
He also claimed that Khaleda’s physical condition had worsened so much that doctors cannot even inject medicine into her body. “If this situation continues, she will die.”
Khaleda, a three-time former prime minister, has been in prison since February last year, serving a total of 17 years in the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust corruption cases.
The 74-year-old was transferred to the BSMMU Hospital on April 1 this year for treatment from the old central jail on Nazim Uddin Road, and has been there since then.
Zainul said there was precedent that the apex court granted bail to a convict jailed for 10 years. “The court also took similar decisions earlier in case of women and children. She [Khaleda] is sick, she can’t walk. It is not like she will flee. She should be granted bail on humanitarian grounds,” he urged the court.
However, both the attorney general and ACC lawyer Khurshid opposed the bail petition, saying Khaleda was receiving all proper treatment at BSMMU Hospital.
“The BNP chairperson has been suffering from arthritis for the last 30 years and diabetes for 20 years. She is suffering from pain in her left knee since 1997. She also has asthma and is physically weak. But she is refusing the medical treatment at the hospital,” Mahbubey said.
He argued that Khaleda has been convicted for 17 years of imprisonment in two cases. “It's not a short sentence. Appeal hearing on both cases may take place any day. She should not be granted bail at this time.”
‘Khaleda’s condition deteriorating further’
Khaleda’s lawyer Zainul told reporters afterwards that the top court, while denying bail to the BNP chief, did not consider matters generally considered during a bail hearing.
“We were hoping that she [Khaleda] would get bail today [Thursday],” he said.
“The medical report submitted to the court mentions that her condition is deteriorating further every day, and the report does not mention that she is receiving proper treatment,” he added.
When asked whether BNP would hold any protest program, Zainul said: “First, we will look into the reasons behind the court’s decision to reject her bail, and then we will discuss the next course of action.”
Talking to reporters, Attorney General Mahbubey, however, maintained that the medical report said Khaleda’s physical condition was normal.
“The court has asked the BSMMU authorities to give her advanced treatment with her permission. But that won’t happen, if she refuses to give consent,” he said.
Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday also said that the Appellate Division rejected bail to the BNP chief after considering her medical report.
“Six justices must have taken the decision after enough consideration, and as we believe in the rule of law, we have to accept it,” he told reporters at the secretariat.
He said as far as he heard the top court went through the medical report and reached the decision that Khaleda can be treated here. “The treatment being provided to her at the BSMMU Hospital is sufficient.”
The minister added that BSMMU authorities will certainly do everything as per the court observation.
Later in the evening, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters that the entire nation was stunned by the Supreme Court's judgment.
“We are disappointed and aggrieved over the rejection of the bail petition. The court has denied her [Khaleda] justice,” Fakhrul said after a meeting of the party top brass at the BNP chief’s Gulshan office in Dhaka.
As part of the program to free Khaleda Zia from jail, he announced, BNP will demonstrated and bring out processions across the country on Sunday to press home their demand.