The High Court has halted the Election Commission’s decision to reject the nominations of BNP leaders Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku and Ruhul Quddus Talukdar Dulu, clearing the way for them to compete in the December 30 polls.
Both the BNP leaders have been sentenced to prison by trial courts in criminal cases, but higher courts have issued stays on those sentences.
Returning officers had rejected their applications for the 11th parliamentary election citing their prison sentences. Tuku and Dulu challenged the decisions but the Election Commission upheld them on review.
The two then took their case to the High Court. The High Court bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil then passed an order in their favour, staying the ECs decision, according to a bdnews24 report Monday.
Lawyers for the two BNP leaders say that the High Court has also ordered the EC to accept their nominations as valid.
The court also ordered that any rebel party candidates running in the seats be allowed to withdraw if they wish to do so.
Tuku is running for the Sirajganj-2 seat, while Dulu will compete for the Natore-2 seat.
After Tuku and Dulu’s appeals were dismissed by the EC, their wives Rumana Mahmud and Sabina Yasmin were selected as the BNP’s final candidates for the seats.
Lawyer Fida M Kamal represented Dulu at the hearing, accompanied by Syed Al Ashafur Ali Raja. Tuku was represented by Azmalul Hossain Kiwsi. The state was represented by Deputy Attorney General Mokhlesur Rahman.
Azmalul Hossain Kiwsi told reporters after the hearing that Tuku had been sentenced in a graft case, but was acquitted by the High Court. The Anti-Corruption Commission challenged the High Court ruling with the Appellate Division, which resulted in the case being sent to the High Court for a re-trial.
“When we went to the High Court in 2009, the High Court suspended the conviction and sentence under section 426 of the Penal Code. That order remains in place. That is why we have won today.”
The High Court decision clears the way for Tuku to compete in the election, he said.
“For political reasons we have kept several candidates in certain seats. The High Court has said that if any candidates now wish to withdraw the Election Commission will have to accept it.”
Lawyer Syed Al Ashafur Ali Raja said: “As a result of today’s decision, Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu will be able to compete in the polls. He was sentenced by a trial court under the Penal Code and Explosives Act. The High Court suspended the verdict.”
The same High Court bench dismissed the petition of BNP leader Wadud Bhuiyan, blocking him from competing in the parliamentary polls.
Khagrachhari BNP President and former MP Wadud Bhuiyan had been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Chattogram division Special Judge’s Court in an ACC case during the state of emergency. He appealed the decision and received bail in the case at the High Court in 2009.
When he went to the High Court recently seeking a halt on the conviction and the sentence, the petition was dismissed by a High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam.
According to the court’s observations in the case, section 66 (2) (d) of the constitution prevents candidates from running in the polls unless a trial court’s sentence of two or more years in prison is halted or overturned on appeal by a higher court.
The Khagrachhari returning officer had rejected Wadud Bhuiyan’s nomination for this reason.
The EC upheld the decision on appeal.
Wadud Bhuiyan challenged it at the High Court, but his petition was rejected on Monday.