Defence lawyers' delaying tactic to prolong many corruption cases is slowing down the overall progress of the Anti-Corruption Commission, says ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood.
At a press briefing in the ACC's Segunbagicha office yesterday, Iqbal said the ACC was able to ensure punishment to culprits in 64 percent cases.
During the hearing of two graft cases against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, the Special Judge Court-5 yesterday made a similar observation when her lawyers filed two time petitions in the respected cases.
Repeated time petitions for adjourning trial proceedings is causing delay for the disposal of the cases, said Zia Uddin Zia, one of Khaleda's lawyers, quoting the judge of the court.
Hearing the petitions, the judge told the defence that when the court granted Khaleda bail in 2015 on the grounds that she would help the court to dispose of the case, but at this moment she was not doing so.
Defence lawyers filed two time petitions, seeking adjournment for placing self-defence statement of Khaleda in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case and cross-examining four prosecution witnesses in Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
At one stage of the hearing, the court issued a show-cause notice, asking the defence to explain why Khaleda's bail would not be cancelled. The court gave them 30 minutes for reply.
The defence submitted a reply, saying that their client had gone to London for treatment of her eyes and legs.
Earlier, Khaleda had gone abroad several times for treatment without taking any permission from the court. That is why they did not find it necessary to file petitions, seeking permission from the court, her lawyer AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon told this correspondent yesterday.
In 2015, when Khaleda skipped court hearings on four consecutive dates and filed repeated time petitions in the graft cases, the court issued an arrest warrant against the BNP chief, who surrendered before the court later.
The anti-graft body filed the cases on August 8, 2011.
ACC CHIEF'S BRIEFING
At yesterday's briefing, ACC boss Iqbal said they were receiving different kinds of allegations, including corruption, through the hotline.
“Because of the hotline, people now get a scope for informing them [ACC] about any complaints easily,” he said.
On July 27, the ACC introduced a hotline number 106 to receive corruption complaints. The ACC has received over 75,000 complaints across the country to date.
Of them, the ACC has primarily selected 250 allegations for enquiry. “Most of the allegations are petty in nature and do not fall under the ACC's purview for investigation,” said ACC's Public Relations Officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya yesterday.
ACC sources said many people made phone calls to the ACC to complain against utility service providers.
“Of the utility service providers, we get most of the complaints against Palli Bidyut Samity officials for demanding bribe,” an ACC source said, adding that the majority of allegations came from rural people.
Joining as the ACC chairman in April last year, Iqbal has taken various measures to strengthen the commission.