B`desh SC adjourns hearing on Yunus plea

Bangladesh Supreme court Tuesday adjourned for two weeks the hearing on Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus`s appeal petition against his removal from the Grameen Bank.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2011, 13:23 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh Supreme court Tuesday
adjourned for two weeks the hearing on Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus`s appeal petition against his removal from the Grameen
Bank as 26 US Congressmen asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
to amicably settle the issue.

The appellate division of the Supreme Court adjourned
for two weeks the hearing on two appeals filed against a High
Court judgement that upheld a Bangladesh Bank order removing
Yunus from the office of managing director of Grameen Bank.

70-year-old Yunus`s chief counsel Kamal Hossain told
the court that Yunus was appointed as Grameen Bank MD with the
approval of Bangladesh Bank in 1990 while the central bank
carried out an audit into the lending agency in 1998 but it
did not raise any question about his appointment.

"(So) there was no need for further approval from
Bangladesh Bank... If the government felt that it was not
right for Yunus to hold the office, it could have issued a
proper notice to him," he said.

Yunus filed the appeal petition as the High Court last
week upheld a Bangladesh Bank order removing Yunus from the
pioneering micro-lending agency he had founded three decades
ago allegedly for holding the position of its managing
director without the central bank`s approval.

Nine directors of the Grameen Bank also filed an
identical provisional leave-to-appeal petition seeking stay on
the High Court decision.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Hasina on March 11, which
was made available to the media yesterday, the US Congressmen
said, "we are troubled by the removal of Dr Muhammad Yunus
from his position at Grameen Bank."

The group led by Joseph Crowley and Gary Ackerman said
Bangladesh made important strides in economic growth and by
taking steps to address corruption, seeking greater
cooperation with its neighbours, fighting poverty and
improving the rule of law.

"Unfortunately, the situation with Yunus is beginning
to overshadow these concrete gains and introduce uncertainty
regarding one of Bangladesh`s most visible and beloved
institutions," the letter said.
The Daily Star and several other mass circulation
newspapers published the letter as Yunus visibly rallied huge
supports of international community and civil society groups
in the country behind him.

"Many of us have personally seen the effectiveness of
Grameen programmes, and believe they and Yunus have done a
great deal to improve lives by providing access to credit for
those without collateral," read the Congressmen`s letter.

The Congressmen said they earlier raised these
concerns directly with Bangladesh government over the past few
months, "but the situation has not changed" as they urged
Hasina to resolve the matter through a "mutual compromise" to
ensure independence of the microfinance institution.

Yunus was unceremoniously relieved of his duties last
month through a Bangladesh Bank letter sent to Grameen Bank
while the High Court said Yunus continued in his job with no
legal basis also because he exceeded the retirement age of 60
as "an official" of the microcredit lending agency under the
Grameen Bank regulation long ago.

His experiment of poor men`s banking earned Bangladesh
the repute of being the home of microcredit and himself the
Nobel Peace Prize along with the micro lending agency in 2006.

Analysts earlier said his troubles stem from 2007 when
he announced forming of a political party, an idea which was
visibly unwelcome by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her
archrival Zia.

PTI