EPR convicts disqualified for Dec 29 poll: HC
The High Court today said the people who were convicted by courts under Emergency Power Rules (EPR) 2007 would not be able to contest December 29 parliamentary polls.
The court ruled that the provision of the EPR barring the convicts from contesting the elections will be applicable as per Article 66(2)(D) of the Constitution.
A division bench of the higher court comprising Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana and Justice Md Rezaul Haque delivered the verdict with disposing of a writ petition filed by detained former BNP communications minister Nazmul Huda.
Huda was convicted in two criminal cases under the EPR.
The court in observation said, "Rule 11(5) of the Emergency Power Rules (EPR) 2007 is effective subject to the provisions embodied in Article 66(2)(D) of the Constitution".
The Article 66(2)(D) of the Constitution of the republic states that a person will be disqualified for parliamentary elections if he or she is convicted for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude or sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years unless a period of five years elapses since his release.
The legal experts said following the HC verdict, Section 11(5) of the Emergency Power Rules 2007, will remain operative barring the convicts in EPR cases from contesting the upcoming election.
The people who were convicted and sentenced to two years' or more than two years' in the criminal cases will be disqualified to contest in the election unless a period of five years elapses since their releases, they said.
They said Nazmul Huda is disqualified to contest in the parliamentary elections since he was tried under the EPR and convicted in two criminal cases.
According to lawyers, the ball is now in the Election Commission’s court. The returning officer will look into the matter during the scrutiny of nomination papers.
Barrister Rafique-ul Huq told The Daily Star that following the HC verdict the convicts in the cases under the EPR cannot contest the parliamentary elections unless the state of emergency is lifted before the scrutiny of nomination papers submitted by the convicts.
Replying to a question, he said the charges of committing corruptions and taking bribes are considered as moral turpitude.
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Barrister Shafique Ahmed said, "The High Court judgement is valid in view of fact that those who have been convicted for corruption charges are disqualified for running in the general elections as per the provisions of Article 66(D) and 66(G) of the Constitution."
He also said as per the constitutional provisions, the convicts cannot contest the elections despite filing appeals with the higher courts against their convictions.
Nazmul Huda was convicted twice. On August 27 last year, a special court sentenced Huda to seven years' rigorous imprisonment for amassing wealth illegally and concealing information about it.
And on June 12 this year, a Dhaka court sentenced him to 12 years' rigorous imprisonment in an extortion case.
Nazmul Huda on October 26 filed the writ petition with the HC challenging the legality of the Rule 11(5) of the EPR, 2007, disqualifying the people convicted by courts in the cases under the EPR will not be eligible for contesting the parliamentary elections if his or her appeal against the conviction remains pending with the appellate court.
The petition also said the Rule 11(5) goes against Article 66 of the Constitution determining the qualifications and disqualifications of the people for contesting polls.
Attorney general Salahuddin Ahmad appeared for the government while Advocate Fowzia Karim argued for the petitioner.
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