Yunus’s lawyers call HC order ‘perverse’, ‘biased’Admin
Lawyers acting for Mohammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, argued on Monday before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court that the High Court order, which had ‘summarily dismissed’ their application challenging the legality of Bangladesh
Bank’s attempt to remove their client from his post of managing director, was ‘perverse’, ‘biased’ and a ‘gross error of the judicial process’.
Attorney-general Mahbubey Alam and Bangladesh Bank’s lawyer Tawfique Nawaz will respond to the arguments today (Tuesday).
On 2 March the Bangladesh Bank sent a letter to the chairman of the Grameen Bank, informing him that Mohammed Yunus should have retired from his position of managing director when he reached the age of 60 and should now be removed.
The application, lodged the following day by Yunus’s lawyers at the High Court, was ‘summarily dismissed’ on 9 March, with the court ruling that ‘he has no legal right or even no locus standi to challenge the impugned orders’.
Dr Kamal Hossain argued before the seven-judge bench that the failure of the High Court to ‘issue a rule’, allowing a full hearing of the facts, was a ‘denial of access to justice’ for the country’s only Nobel Laureate as well as a ‘breach of established principles of due process set out in Article 31 of the Constitution’.
Article 31 specifies the right of citizens to ‘enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with the law’.
Kamal argued that the country’s ‘constitutional jurisprudence calls for issuance of a rule where there are prime facie grounds’ that show that the impugned orders are without lawful authority.
He went on to argue that the ruling of the High Court that Yunus had no right to seek a remedy from the court revealed ‘a lack of impartiality on the part of the judges’ as the petitioner was ‘unquestionably a person aggrieved’.
Mahmudul Islam, who addressed the court next on behalf of Yunus, started by arguing that the High Court judgment ‘turned the principles of natural justice upside down’.
‘The High Court order says that there is no necessity of giving him notice as the petitioner was not prejudiced. I will show that the principle of natural justice is just the reverse,’ he told the court.
He said that if the court does not reverse this decision, it will ‘give a wrong signal’.
‘One of the reasons to give leave is to correct inaccuracies in law. If it is left [as it is] it will create confusion. You must give leave to appeal if only to correct this gross error,’ Mahmudul told the judges.
He argued that the High Court’s description of the petitioner as ‘a squatter, a usurper, a trespasser’ showed ‘a bias’ in the High Court.
‘He was lawfully appointed. These three words cannot be used in relation to this man,’ he said.
Mahmudul then argued that the 1993 staff regulations, which required all ‘workers’ to retire at the age of 60, did not apply to Yunus.
He contended that the person who held the post of managing director could not be considered a ‘worker’ in the context of these regulations, as the regulations defined the term ‘managing director’ separately and also said that the managing director ‘appointed the workers’.
‘How can the managing director be a worker if he also appointed the workers,’ Mahmudul asked the court.
Rokannuddin Mahmud, the petitioner’s third lawyer, focused his arguments on how the Bangladesh Bank had not only ‘given consent by implication and conduct’ to Yunus continuing in office as managing director for the last ten years, but also ‘by express consent’.
He read out extracts of the Bangladesh Bank’s audit of Grameen Bank conducted in 2001, along with the minutes of subsequent meetings held between the officials of the two banks and stated that these showed that the initial objection of Bangladesh Bank’s officials had been resolved.
On 6 April the Appellate Division dismissed the application for an appeal against the High Court order filed by Yunus’s lawyers, but later that day agreed to consider an application by the same lawyers ‘recalling’ the unsigned order on the basis that the ruling was made before they were able to present all their arguments.
The court gave no ruling on whether it had recalled the order, but allowed the petitioners to present their additional arguments for four hours.