The High Court has stayed the conviction and six-year jail term of the BNP’s Jashore-2 candidate Sabira Sultana. It means there is no bar on her to contest in the parliamentary election, Aminul Islam, the lawyer for Sabira. Justice Md Rais Uddin passed the orders on Thursday on Sabira’s plea seeking a halt on the conviction and sentence delivered by the trial court. The High Court ruling is expected to fuel a political debate ahead of the elections.
The constitution bars any person sentenced to more than two years in jail from running for election until five more years have passed after they serve the prison term.
Another High Court bench in a judgment on Tuesday barred convicts with prison sentences of more than two years from parliamentary elections even if their appeals remain pending.
Tuesdays orders ruined election hopes of BNP chief Khaleda Zia, and leaders Amanullah Aman, Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, Wadud Bhuiyan, Md Moshiur Rahman and Md Abdul Wahab, all of whom are sentenced to more than two years in jail.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday did not respond to an appeal seeking stay on Tuesdays orders.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the state would move the Appellate Division against Thursdays High Court orders staying Sabiras conviction.
Besides Aminul, AJ Mohammad Ali and SK Golam Rasul represented Sabira, a member of the BNPs Central Executive Committee, in the court.
ABM Bayezid argued for the Anti-Corruption Commission or ACC, which prosecuted Sabira, the chairperson of Jhikargachha Upazila Council, in 2009 for providing false information and getting illegal wealth.
Dhaka Special Judge Court-7 on July 12 this year sentenced her to six years in jail and ordered confiscation of her illegal assets worth over Tk 1.79 billion.
Sabira, currently out on bail, contested the special court verdict at the High Court on Oct 14.
After Justice Md Shawkat Hossain refused to hear the plea out of embarrassment, the chief justice forwarded it to Justice Rais Uddin.
Lawyer Aminul told reporters: “The High Court has stayed the conviction and the sentence of Sabira Sultana on our petition. She will be able to contest in the next parliamentary elections following these orders.”
He suggested that the Election Commission follow the judgment of Justice Rais Uddin instead of Tuesdays because he is senior to the judges who shut the door on the convicts with regards to the elections.
Attorney General Alam said if Justice Rais Uddins judgment cleared the way for Sabira to contest in the polls, it would contradict Tuesdays verdict.
“We will surely appeal against it…Any judge can express his or her views, but the constitution remains above all of them,” he said.