The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) cannot impose travel ban on any accused in corruption case without permission from the court.
The Supreme Court has said the anti-graft watchdog will have to take prior permission from the court to impose embargo on corruption suspects or accused from leaving the country.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, on Monday said this in a verdict, which was delivered on several appeals filed by the ACC.
The Appellate Division modified the High Court’s order on the issue with some observations and directions. The apex court, however, did not disclose the observations and directions, saying that those will be included in the written verdict which will be released in 15 days.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan appeared in the court for the ACC, while lawyers Prabir Neogi, Barrister AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Barrister Ruhul Quddus Kazal argued for the accused.
The ACC has filed five separate leave-to-appeal petitions with the apex court, challenging two verdicts and three orders delivered by the High Court in 2019 and this year over this issue.
While delivering the verdict on a writ petition, the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman on March 16 this year observed that a specific law or rule is needed regarding imposition of embargo on corruption suspects or accused from leaving the country.
There is no any specific law or rule to ban people, against whom inquiries or investigations are underway in connection with corruption allegations or cases, from leaving the country as they have rights to free movement according to the Constitution, the HC said.
The HC delivered its judgment after it heard a writ petition filed by one Ataur Rahman from Narsingdi, challenging the ACC’s action to restrain him from going abroad as there is a graft allegation against him, which was being inquired.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police arrested Ataur Rahman from Malibagh area in the capital on November 1 in 2019. Ataur is accused in several cases for land grabbing, extortion and cheating. Later, the ACC issued a notice on August 24 in 2020, asking Ataur, to submit his wealth statement.
After he submitted the statement, the ACC started the inquiry into his wealth and on December 20 that year, the commission issued a letter to the immigration police to refrain Ataur from going to Sweden.
After the HC bench’s observation and verdict, the ACC filed the appeals. Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Obaidul Hassan heard the ACC’s petitions and upheld the High Court verdict. The Chamber Judge did not respond to the petitions, but he sent the ACC’s appeals to the full bench of the Appellate Division.
Earlier in 2019 and this year, the HC made similar observations in another verdict and three orders on four other petitions filed by some corruption accused.