Zia expresses `no confidence` in High Court bench

Bangladesh`s main opposition BNP chief Zia has expressed "no confidence" in a HC bench which was to hear her petition against a govt order scrapping the lease of her posh cantonment allotted to her nearly three decades ago.

Updated: May 05, 2010, 16:06 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s main opposition BNP chief
Khaleda Zia has expressed "no confidence" in a High Court
bench, which was to hear her petition against a government
order scrapping the lease of her posh cantonment residence
allotted to her nearly three decades ago.

"... my client (Zia) fears that she may not get justice
from this bench," the BNP chief`s counsel AM Mahbubuddin
Khokon told the court which had earlier rejected her petition
for adjournment of the hearing.

He stated this last night after submitting the petition
seeking the court to refer the case -- in which Zia is
challenging the government order scrapping the lease of her
house -- to the Chief Justice for referral to another bench.

The two-member bench comprising judges Imman Ali and
Obaidul Hasan granted for hearing Zia`s petition, saying it
would pass an order on the matter soon.

Zia`s counsel said she had "no confidence" in the bench.

Earlier on March 18, Zia filed a similar application
before another High Court bench which referred it to the Chief
Justice who then sent the case to the current bench of Ali and
Hassan.

Zia`s lawyers staged noisy protests in the courtroom
accusing the judges of being "partisan" after they rejected
their plea for adjournment of hearing in the writ petition on
April 11.

Zia`s arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s Awami
League-led government last year asked her to vacate the posh
residence on an area of 2.72 acres of land at the Dhaka
Cantonment, which she was allotted 29 years ago under a
controversial lease agreement.

The Cabinet on April 8, 2009 cancelled the lease on
grounds that the process had been faulty and she had violated
lease terms while the subsequent notices said she was carrying
out political activities from the house located in a
"protected area."

Authorities in May last year issued a third notice to Zia
asking her to leave the house by June 30, surrendering its
possession to the military estate officer of the Dhaka
Cantonment.

Zia filed the writ petition on May 3, 2009, challenging
the notice.

A subsequent security restriction barring some visitors
from entering Zia`s cantonment residence on the Eid day
sparked protests in the opposition camp with BNP calling it an
"undemocratic and undesirable" decision.

Hasina earlier urged her arch-rival to return her house
to the state, saying "taking possession of a house illegally
by a former primer, who is now the leader of the opposition,
is not fair."

"She (Zia) should return the house to the state. Why
should she force us to take the possession of the house?"
Hasina told Parliament.

"When I was the leader of the opposition, I was (even)
barred from entering the cantonment with my vehicle to visit
ailing writer Humayun Azad at Combined Military Hospital, then
why will the present leader of the opposition live inside the
cantonment?" Hasina earlier said.

The then military ruler Hussain Muhammad Ershad had
allocated Zia another posh house at uptown Gulshan
area in 1981 and she was again offered a bigger house on
area of 2.72 acres of land at the cantonment in 1982.

"Under the rules two houses cannot be allocated to one
person," a government statement earlier said.

Zia was allocated the houses after the assassination of
her husband Ziaur Rahman, a military ruler turned civilian
President, in an abortive 1981 coup.

PTI