June 12, 2008

Minus two formula and remote controlled justice

Extra-ordinary scenes were in Dhaka yesterday as the freshly released ex Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met with four advisers and had a telephone chat with the Chief Advisers to demand quick election in Bangladesh. She is is on her way to the United States today to be received by her son in Boston.

Sheikh Hasina was arrested 11 months ago in connection with an extortion case and was sent to a sub-jail on the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises. She was also charged with 14 more cases in the course of time.

The Daily Star claims:
The court orders came after a government-formed medical board examined Hasina on June 5 and recommended the next day to send her abroad for better treatment of her ear. Acting on the recommendations, the government yesterday freed her for eight weeks on parole.
According to Prothom Alo the government can cancel the decision of temporary release of Hasina (the executive order under section 401/4A of criminal act) anytime without showing any reason.

However only last Sunday (8th of June) a special court rejected the bail prayer of Sheikh Hasina in the Niko graft case.

Tacit comments in Drishtipat blog:
Sheikh Hasina has been given neither bail nor parole. The courts have exempted her from showing up in person for the trials, but absent a bail or parole, she should still be in jail. Unless there is a secret order somewhere labeling Sudha Shadhan a subjail, Sheikh Hasina is currently, de jure, a runaway from the law.
Cholishnu Bidda Kalpadroom comments:
In this process a new type of parole has been invented in Bangladesh. It is called the “politicized parole”.
So what had instigated this extra-ordinary freedom of Sheikh Hasina? Lots of speculations are on the board like Sheikh Hasina will not return to avoid detention. If Awami League gets the majority in the next election then she can be brought back to the parliament using by-election and eventually select for the Prime Minister post.

The most important thing is that Awami League has decided to participate in the dialog organized by the government and eventually the election. Another information is that Sheikh Hasina's Canadian Visa was also arranged by the government. So it is clear that Awami League has reached some sort of deal with the Government.

The release of Hasina has been welcomed by many as it will create a cooling breeze into Bangladeshi politics. However the whole fiasco only questions the independence of the judiciary in the country which is clearly still being manipulated politically.

A New Age editorial marked the decline:
On Wednesday, April 23, the Appellate Division curtailed the authority of the High Court Division to hear bail petitions in cases under the Emergency Powers Rules, in a judgement that has sparked furore among legal experts and practitioners, and been dubbed as the last nail in the human rights coffin.
Another commenter in Drishtipat says:
I want to talk about the so called “independent” judiciary in Bangladesh. This has been claimed as THE MOST SIGNIFICANT of the reforms of the current government. But ever since the judiciary became independent, even the high court is more aligned with the government. (The lower court has always been with the government, with or without independence).
According to Odhikar, a human rights organization (BDNews24):
"The way the caretaker government has fast-tracked the judicial process by getting courts to issue orders in a day exempting former prime minister Sheikh Hasina from personal appearance has exposed, yet again, use of judicial process for extraneous purposes. These hurried decisions have seriously undermined the judiciary and the judicial process in the people's perception.

It is obvious that political calculation has overwritten both the emergency and the ordinances by which the regime is ruling the country, but most importantly the normal process of the judiciary. Manipulation of state organs and institutions for preconceived outcomes has seriously undermined peoples' confidence in the regime and Bangladesh is already hanging on a very risky margin."
And this does not end here. Khaleda Zia also wants her two sons released and sent abroad. It remains to be seen that even charged with many high profile and evidence filled corruption cases, with what excuse Khaleda Zia's sons would be shown their way to freedom.

So it seems it is the minus two formula in effect in the expense of an independent judicial system.


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