Law ministry

Department of Justice sends notice home

Khaleda Zia

Khaleda Zia, the main chairwoman of the Nationalist Party of Bangladesh and former opposition prime minister, is unlikely to get permission to travel abroad for better treatment as the Justice Ministry has given her opinion on a request of his family.

Justice Minister Anisul Huq said on Monday that his ministry had sent its notice to the Interior Ministry over a request from the family of BNP Chairwoman Khaleda Zia for permission to take her to the stranger for better treatment.

He told reporters in his office at the ministry that he could not release the advice at this stage as the dossier would be sent to the prime minister for approval.

The Minister of Justice received the file on November 21.

“The Ministry of Justice has given its opinion on the request of the brother of BNP Chairman Khaleda Zia for permission to take him abroad for treatment and he has just been sent to the Ministry of Interior” , said Anisul.

He said he must keep the advice confidential until the Prime Minister sees the file.

Responding to a question, the Minister of Justice said it was not possible to reconsider the “passed and closed chapter” under the six subsections of Article 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Anisul, also a lawyer by profession, said the explanation he gave earlier regarding the legal impediment to reconsidering a claim that had been decided earlier under Section 401 was legal.

“I think my explanation was the right one,” he added.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda’s family have filed similar requests with the Interior Ministry on several occasions, but the Justice Ministry has previously said in its notice that the law has no such reach.

Addressing an event in the city of Dhaka, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, a member of the ruling Awami League Presidium, said there was no precedent for allowing a convicted person to seek medical treatment at the stranger.

Referring to the BNP’s request to allow Khaleda Zia to seek treatment abroad, he said the request was utter nonsense.

“There are more than 4,000 people suffering from various illnesses in detention. If Khaleda is allowed to be processed abroad, why won’t other prisoners be allowed? said Selim.

On November 23, the Minister of Justice assured a delegation of pro-BNP lawyers to review their memorandum seeking government permission to send Khaleda Zia abroad for better treatment on humanitarian grounds.

They called on the minister to find a legal way to send sick Khaleda abroad for humanitarian treatment.

“I received the file on November 21 but I haven’t given an opinion yet because I wanted to listen to you (pro-BNP lawyers),” Anisul said.

In a further request to the Interior Ministry on November 11, Khaleda’s family again requested permission to take him abroad for better treatment.

The 76-year-old former PM, who is suffering from multiple illnesses including post-Covid complications, was taken to Evercare Hospital on November 13, six days after returning from hospital.

His family applied to the government twice in May and August, asking for permission to take him abroad for better treatment.

But the government rejected the requests, saying there was no possibility for a convict to get such an opportunity.

Khaleda suffers from severe and uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cough-variant asthma, and an autoimmune disease that damages moisture-producing glands, obstructing the production of saliva and tears, according to his family and doctors.

On March 25, 2020, she was released from the jail cell at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on an executive decree suspending her sentences in two transplant cases amid the Covid outbreak, initially for six months, on the condition that she undergo medical treatment at home and would not leave the country.

On September 19 this year, the government for the fourth time suspended his sentences for an additional six months under the same conditions.