The Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday filed a case against former Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and 10 others, including six officials of the now-renamed Farmers Bank Ltd, accusing them of laundering of Tk 4 core from the bank.
The commission director Sayed Iqbal Hossain filed the case with its integrated district office-1, commission secretary Mohammad Delwar Bakht told reporters at his office.
This is the first instance in the country’s history in which a former chief justice has been sued on any charge.
The six accused bank officials are: former Farmers Bank Ltd’s (now Padma Bank Ltd) managing director and chief executive officer AKM Shameem, first vice-presidents Swapan Kumar Roy and Shafiuddin Askaree, senior executive vice-presidents Gazi Salauddin and Ziauddin Ahmed and vice-president M Lutful Haque.
The rest four accused are clients of the bank M Shahjahan, Niranjan Chandra Saha, Santree Roy and Ranajit Chandra Saha.
According to the commission investigation, each of Niranjan Chandra Saha and M Shahjahan transferred Tk 2 crore from their accounts with the Gulshan Branch of the bank to the bank account of the former chief justice through separate pay orders.
The probe found that Niranjan Chandra was nephew of Ranajit Chandra while Ranajit and Shahjahan were childhood friends.
The first information report said that all the 11 accused would be tried for siphoning off of the money in collusion of each other between November 2016 and September 2018.
It also said that they tried to transfer and hide the money, which constituted offences under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012.
On April 25, 2018, the commission started an inquiry into a complaint from an unknown source that Tk 4 crore was transferred to the bank account of the then chief justice SK Sinha from two accounts of the Farmers Bank.
The inquiry against Justice Sinha began four months and a half after he resigned as the chief justice on November 10, 2018 amid serious controversies, kicked off by a unanimous Appellate Division verdict.
The Appellate Division judgement upheld a High Court Division verdict that struck down the 16th amendment to the constitution seeking to restore the Jatiya Sangsad’s power to remove Supreme Court judges for misconduct or incapacity.
The unanimous verdict of the apex court penned by chief justice SK Sinha created bitterness between him and the government.
Immediately after Sinha resigned as the chief justice, law minister Anisul Huq said that the law would take its own course with regard to the 11 allegations brought against Justice Sinha by five fellow Appellate Division judges.
Sinha, now staying in America, sent his letter of resignation through the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Singapore while he was there on his way to Australia.
Lawyers said that Sinha’s departure from Bangladesh and his resignation occurred due to pressure mounted by the government.
On October 2, 2018, the law minister announced that chief justice Sinha had expressed his desire to go on leave for a month with effect from October 3, 2018 saying that he was suffering from cancer and other diseases.
The following day, the government announced that the next senior-most Appellate Division judge, Justice Wahhab Miah, would discharge the duties of the chief justice during Justice SK Sinha’s absence on ‘sick leave’.
A law ministry notification on October 12 extended his 30-day ‘sick leave’ until November 10, 2018.
On October 13, 2018, Justice Sinha left for Australia.
While leaving his official residence for the airport on the day, Justice Sinha told the waiting reporters in a written statement that he was going abroad for the time being and would return soon.
On October 14, 2018, in an unprecedented statement, Supreme Court registrar general Syed Aminul Islam said that five fellow Appellate Division judges declined to share any bench with Justice Sinha after the president had handed to them documents regarding 11 specific allegations about corruption and irregularities committed by Justice Sinha.
The same statement said that the allegations against Justice Sinha included money laundering to foreign countries, financial irregularities, corruption and moral turpitude.
During August 2018, lawyers toeing the ruling Awami League’s political line held countrywide demonstrations demanding that the observations made in the verdict against the 16th amendment should be immediately withdrawn by Justice Sinha.
On August 1, 2018, the Appellate Division had released its full verdict on the 16th amendment.
SK Sinha published a book titled ‘A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy’ in the year from the United States.
The former Chief Justice wrote in his book that he was forced to leave the country after he penned the unanimous verdict on the 16th amendment.
SK Sinha also claimed in his book that the money in question was transferred to his bank account as the sale proceeds of his house.