Bangla HC upholds sacking of Yunus as Grameen Bank head

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 20:57

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s High Court on Tuesday upheld
the sacking of Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus as head of
the pioneering Grameen Bank he founded nearly three decades
ago, holding he has been continuing in his job with "no legal
basis."

"The MD of the Grameen Bank is an official who cannot
hold the office for an unlimited period. He has been
continuing in his job with no legal basis," the High Court
said in its judgement that came as a major setback to 70-year-
old Yunus who is locked in a biter clash with authorities.

The two-bench headed by Justice Momtaz Uddin Ahmed in
its order said the petitions by Yunus, an outspoken government
critic, challenging the legality of last week`s Central Bank
order removing him as Managing Director of the pioneering
microfinance bank "are rejected." It delivered a lengthy
judgement after three days of hearing on his appeal.
"Also, the managing director is an officer of the bank,
and the mandatory retirement age for bank officers is 60, so
he has also exceeded his retirement age long ago," he said,
adding it was "crystal clear" that the order to remove Yunus
from his post as managing director was legal.

One of Yunus` junior lawyers Sara Hossain said the
veteran banker will appeal to the apex Appellate Division of
the Supreme Court through a provisional leave petition. "It`s
a sad day," he said,

Hossain was quoted as saying that they will be taking
an appeal forward and it could be as early as tomorrow.

The bench, which included Gobinda Chandra Thakur, said
that despite being a mandatory provision, the permission of
the Bangladesh Bank was not obtained when the Grameen Bank
Board appointed Yunus as the executive chief of the bank,
which Yunus founded in 1983.
At the crowded courtroom, Yunus was represented by only
Hossain, who said "what we had apprehended appeared true."

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and the Central Bank
lawyers, however, were present as the judgement was passed.

Yunus had defied government order removing him from
his position at the Grameen Bank, returning to work and filing
the petition in the High Court against his dismissal. The
government said he was working in violation of the country`s
retirement laws.

He has alleged that the government was trying to take
control of the pioneering micro lending agency, which provides
small loans to the poor.

Yunus has long had strained relations with Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina and has charged that the government is
seeking political advantage by controlling Grameen Bank, which
was fuelling a boom in such lending across the developing
world.

Hasina has accused Grameen Bank and other microfinance
institutions of charging high interest rates and "sucking
blood from the poor borrowers." She was reportedly angered by
Yunus` 2007 attempt to form his own political party, backed by
the country`s powerful army. Yunus won the Nobel Prize in
2006.

Grameen Bank, which is 25 per cent state-owned and
employs 24,000 people, provides collateral-free loans to eight
million borrowers, the vast majority from rural areas.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 20:57

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