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Bangladesh orders arrest of 'fugitive' ex-chief justice

Surendra Kumar Sinha | File

Surendra Kumar Sinha | File   | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ministry of Law & Justice (GODL-India)

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The case came days after Sinha’s newly-launched autobiography brought him in political spotlight over two years after he was forced to quit amid a row with the government

An arrest warrant was issued against Bangladesh’s first Hindu chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on charges of embezzling 40 million taka, court officials said on January 5.

Sinha, 68, who lives in the U.S., has been described as a “fugitive” by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in its charge-sheet. Judge K.M. Emrul Kayesh of Dhaka’s Senior Special Judges’ Court took cognizance of the graft charges brought against Sinha and 10 others by the ACC.

“The judge ordered his (Sinha’s) arrest along with 10 others as the ACC accused him of misappropriating and laundering about 4 crore taka ($471,993) in 2016,” public prosecutor Taposh Kumar Pal told reporters. The rest of the accused are former senior officials of Farmers Bank including its ex-managing director.

The ACC in its charge-sheet described all the 11 to be “fugitives”. It alleged that Sinha and 10 others embezzling 40 million taka from Farmers Bank, which was later renamed as Padma Bank Limited, Pal said.

The development came nearly three months after the ACC said it found evidence of fraud involving transactions of 40 million taka borrowed with fake documents by two businessmen from the bank while the amount was deposited in Sinha’s account.

Sinha, who is said to have sought asylum in the U.S., served as the 21st Chief Justice of Bangladesh from January, 2015 to November, 2017.

The case came days after Sinha’s newly-launched autobiography brought him in political spotlight over two years after he was forced to quit amid a row with the government.

The ACC earlier said if required it would quiz Sinha by bringing him back home but “interrogation is not a mandatory provision for investigations“.

In his autobiography “A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy”, Sinha said he was forced to resign in 2017 following intimidation and threats, drawing a sharp reaction from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who accused some anti-government newspapers of backing him.

In a media interview after the book launch in Washington, Sinha urged India to support the rule of law and democracy in Bangladesh, calling the incumbent Awami League government as a “autocratic” one.

Sinha, Bangladesh’s first chief justice from the minority Hindu community, alleged that he was forced to resign because he opposed Bangladesh’s incumbent “undemocratic” and “authoritarian” regime.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 2:53:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/bangladesh-orders-arrest-of-fugitive-ex-chief-justice/article30487353.ece

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