Bangladesh’s top anti-corruption agency said Wednesday it would investigate into alleged corruption charges against former top judge Surendra Kumar Sinha - the first Hindu Chief Justice of the country - as a court referred a case against him to the independent statutory body.
Sinha, 67, has alleged that he was forced to resign because he opposed the “undemocratic” and “authoritarian” regime. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has refuted Sinha’s allegations and charged him with corruption.
He now lives in the US where he is said to have sought asylum.
“Investigations will be launched into the allegation as the case (against Sinha) was referred to us,” Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Chairman Iqbal Mahmud told a media briefing here, days after renegade BNP leader and former minister Nazmul Huda filed a case alleging that Sinha had demanded bribes from him.
Mahmud said the ACC would analyse as well if the matter was within its purview “but since a court referred it to us, it could be assumed ‘something is there’ which needed our involvement”.
Huda, whose NDA party is now a ruling Awami League ally, alleged that Sinha had demanded from him an amount of Taka 3.25 crore ($386,904) for delivering judgment in a case in his favour while he was the chief justice.
The case against Sinha came days after his newly launched autobiography brought him in political spotlight a year after he was forced to quit amid a row with the government.
The ACC chief said if required the graft commission investigators would quiz Sinha and bring him back but “interrogation is not a mandatory provision for investigations”.
Mahmud said the ACC would also investigate into money laundering allegations involving Sinha’s younger brother, who too now is in the US.
In his autobiography ‘A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy’, Sinha said he was forced to resign last year following intimidation and threats, drawing a sharp reaction from Prime Minister Hasina who accused some anti-government newspapers of backing him.
At the launch of his book in Washington this week, Sinha urged India to support the rule of law and democracy in Bangladesh, saying the Indian government should not ignore the peoples’ will by backing the “autocratic” Awami League-led government.
Sinha said that he was forced to resign because he had opposed the “undemocratic” and “authoritarian” regime.
In his book, Sinha described in detail the circumstances under which he had to leave the country and resign as the Chief Justice of Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Hasina has hinted certain quarters were backing Sinha with particular motive as he launched his autobiography a year after being forced to resign amid a row with her government.
“Please unveil who gives money for launching the book, the state-run BSS quoted Hasina telling a press conference in New York recently where she joined the annual UN General Assembly session.