MP Shahid will lose seat if jailed for two years or more

Monday, 3 August 2020

Laxmipur's independent lawmaker Kazi Shahid Islam, who is currently detained in Kuwait on money laundering and human trafficking charges, will lose his seat in parliament if he is jailed for no less than two years in the case.

A person is no more eligible to become a member of parliament for five years after the end of his two-year jail term under the penal code, according to Bangladesh’s constitution.

MP Shahid will be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail, according to the Kuwait law, if the allegations against him of human trafficking, money laundering and torturing are proved.

Worker recruiter Shahid, who runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO, was detained by police at his residence in Kuwait City on Jun 08. The Gulf State's public prosecutors have brought charges of human trafficking, money laundering and labour abuse against Shahid. The incident stirred a political furore in Kuwait.

Shahid won the Laxmipur-2 seat in the 2018 election as an independent candidate.

The Awami League left the Laxmipur-2 seat for its ally the Jatiya Party, which nominated Mohammad Noman, the MP from the constituency in the last parliament.

Snubbed by the Awami League, Shahid began campaigning as an independent candidate. The picture shifted abruptly after Noman pulled out of the race.

With no-one as their candidate, the local Awami League leaders threw their support behind Shahid and he eventually won the election by a huge margin. He bagged around 250,000 votes while his nearest rival, the BNP’s Abul Khayer Bhuiyan, won about 28,000. Later, it was known that Shahid spent a fortune to win the election.

Shahid also launched his successful bid to bring his wife Salina Islam to parliament as a reserved-seat MP.

At least 20,000 Bangladeshis work in Shahid’s company in Kuwait, according to the Bangladeshi community. He is also a shareholder of NRB Commercial Bank.

After his arrest, questions surfaced on Shahid’s parliamentary membership.

“We’ll follow our constitution which says about the eligibility of an MP and take necessary action,” Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said when asked about Shahid’s parliamentary seat.

Article 66 of the country’s constitution says a person shall be disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of parliament who – 

(a) is declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind;

(b) is an undischarged insolvent;

(c) acquires the citizenship of, or affirms or acknowledges allegiance to, a foreign state;

(d) has been, on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.

Authorities must inform the speaker of the parliament when an MP is arrested, detained or convicted, according to the policy of the parliament. 

“I haven’t received any information on the issue,” Speaker Chaudhury said.

If Shahid is convicted in Kuwait, or he is repatriated to Bangladesh, the speaker must be informed about it, said an official of the Parliament Secretariat.

The authorities will take action accordingly. 

For Shahid’s membership case, the Election Commission will take the ultimate decision.

Questions were raised if Shahid had a Kuwaiti citizenship, to which Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said he was arrested as a ‘Kuwait resident’. 

BNP MP Harunur Rashid raised the question in parliament.

MP Shahid will lose his seat in parliament if it is proved that he holds dual citizenship, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had said in reply to Harunur Rashid’s query.

Later, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior said the reports of Shahid obtaining Kuwaiti citizenship were “incorrect” and that he resides in Kuwait according to the Aliens Residence Law.

On Jun 22, the Anti-corruption Commission wrote to the Bangladesh Bank with a request to freeze all accounts with local and foreign banks that belong to MP Shahid, his wife Selina, daughter Wafa Islam and sister-in-law Jasmine.  

The anti-corruption agency also banned the foreign travel of Shahid’s wife, daughter and sister-in-law.