The Appellate Division has rejected BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. The court also ordered the authorities to provide her with better medical treatment in line with the recommendations of her medical board.
The six-member bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order on Thursday.
The court in its observation said if the applicant (Begum Khaleda Zia) gives the necessary consent, the medical board will take immediate action to provide her advanced treatment, which the board has already recommended.
Khondoker Mahbub Hossain and Joynul Abedin represented Khaleda Zia at court. They were accompanied by Moudud Ahmad, Nitai Roy Chowdhury and Mahbubuddin Khokon, among others.
Khurshid Alam Khan appeared on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Commission while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the state.
After the order was passed, Joynul Abedin told the press that the Appellate Division did not give any specific reason for turning down the bail plea. He said they will decide on the next course of action after receiving the written copy of the order.
"But we can say that we did not get justice. Khaleda Zia had enough reasons to get bail. The rejection is unprecedented," commented Joynul Abedin.
The lawyer told the court that Khaleda should be granted bail on humanitarian grounds.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam referred to three of Begum Zia's health reports and said that her health has not deteriorated since 2018.
"I have submitted three health reports at court. The first one is from 2018, the second one is from a couple of months ago and the third one is recent. All the report say her health is the same, nothing has changed.
The attorney general claimed that "Khaleda Zia is receiving all the facilities from the government." He added that a convict is supposed to be in the prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. However, Begum Zia is being treated in a VIP cabin, and has a servant to look after her.
"The hospital is monitoring her around the clock. However, better treatment is not possible if she does not cooperate," Mahbubey Alam told the press.
During the hearing, Joynul Abedin said, "We have full confidence in the Supreme Court. We demand bail on humanitarian grounds. Khaleda Zia walked to court during her trial, and she was completely well then. But we observe that her condition is deteriorating every day."
The court then asked Joynul to read out the submitted medical report.
"I am not a doctor," Joynul replied, and added, "But to the best of my knowledge, this medical report recommends better treatment for Begum Zia. Her condition is so bad that she is inching towards paralysis."
"Her condition may deteriorate further in upcoming months," said the lawyer.
In his reaction, the Anti-Corruption Commission's (ACC) lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, "Several examples were narrated on behalf of the applicant. But those were illegal property-related cases. This one is a case about misusing power."
"She embezzled charity funds while she was the prime minister. The High Court rejected bail considering the gravity of the crime," claimed the ACC lawyer.
He said, "What can the medical board or doctors do if she does not give consent? She is not cooperating. Doctors are monitoring and updating her round the clock. But she is not giving consent."
The issue of advance treatment in line with the recommendations of the medical board came up in the bail hearing.
Referring to former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khaleda's lawyer Joynul told the court, "We consider Pakistan a barbaric country. That country also gave bail to a former prime minister and allowed him to get medical treatment in London. We, therefore, can seek bail on humanitarian grounds."
Khaleda Zia's medical report was presented at the Appellate Division earlier in the morning.
The report submitted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Medical University states that Khaleda Zia has diabetes, asthma, arthritis and is physically weak. However, her diabetes and blood pressure are under control.
In the report, the BSMMU board said that they are unable to give Khaleda Zia advanced treatment because she does not agree to it. However, her physical condition is improving.
On December 5, the top court deferred the hearing until December 12 and asked the medical board formed to treat Khaleda to submit a report on her health.
A six-member Appellate bench, led by the chief justice, passed the order after Attorney General Mahbubey Alam sought time to file the report.
On November 28 this year, the bench deferred the hearing on the bail petition until December 5. It also asked the medical board to submit a health report at court on December 5.
Khaleda moved to the apex court on November 14 challenging a High Court Division order that had turned down her bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
The High Court on September 11 rejected her bail petition. Khaleda's bail plea had been turned down twice before – on July 31 and on September 3.
On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Zia Charitable Trust case at Tejgaon police against four people, including Khaleda. They were accused of misusing power by raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.
A special court jailed the BNP chief and three others for seven years in the case on October 29 last year. Khaleda later moved to the High Court.