NewAge, September 20, 2007
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court is likely to decide today whether the High Court has the authority to dispose off bail petitions in cases lodged under the apparently unassailable Emergency Powers Rules, 2007.
The full court of the six Appellate Division judges, headed by the chief justice, M Ruhul Amin, on Wednesday set the date for delivering its judgement after hearing three government petitions seeking permission to appeal against High Court verdicts that asserted its power to deal with bail petitions under the emergency rules.
The issue first came up during the hearing of a bail petition by a High Court bench of Justice Nozrul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury on March 29, when the deputy attorney general mentioned that the emergency rules, amended on March 21, barred the accused from seeking bail in any court during inquiry, investigation or trial of a case. So, the amended EPR bar the High Court from dealing with bail prayers in cases filed under them, the DAG argued.
On April 22, a High Court bench of Justice Nozrul and Justice SM Emdadul Haque delivered a verdict, resolving the debate it invited on March 29 over the dilemma. The High Court has the jurisdiction to dispose of bail petitions under sections 497 and 498 of the Code of Criminal Procedure even in cases under the emergency rules, and the court has the discretionary power to grant or deny bail to any accused after considering the merits of the case, observed the court.
In the verdict, the High Court also granted anticipatory bail to the petitioner, Mainuddin Sikder, an oil trader of Khulna, sued under the emergency rules. As the government pre-ferred appeal, the Appellate Division on May 24 stayed the verdict. After the April 22 verdict, the High Court on August 19 granted anticipatory bail to the detained former law minister Moudud Ahmed in a case filed under the emergency rules on charge of bringing and selling foreign liquors evading tax.
It has also granted bail to Sabera Aman, wife of the detained former state minister Amanullah Aman, in a case lodged under the emergency rules. The government filed petitions to the Appellate Division seeking permission to appeal against these three High Court verdicts.