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Form commission to find Padma Bridge plotters: HC

Published : 28 Jun 2022 09:43 PM

The High Court has ordered the government to form a commission in 30 days to find out the conspirators behind the creation of false stories about corruption involving the Padma Bridge project. 

The court’s order will be implemented in accordance with Section 3 of the Inquiry Commission Act, 1965. The authorities concerned of the government, however, have been ordered to submit a report in this regard to the court in two months after receiving its order.

The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque issued the orders on Tuesday (June 28) after hearing arguments on a rule that was issued five years ago over conspiracy behind the Padma Bridge project. 

The Cabinet Secretary, Secretaries of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Law Ministry Secretary, the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and Inspector General of Police (IGP) have been asked to reply to the order.

The HC bench, however, set August 28 for passing further order on the issue. Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik confirmed the matter. 

Advocate Abdun Nur Dulal appeared for the Bangladesh Bridge Authority in the court, while Advocate Md. Khurshid Alam Khan argued for the ACC during the hearing of the rule.

The HC bench also held a hearing on the rule on Monday. During the hearing that day, the HC bench observed that those who had opposed the Padma Bridge construction are enemies of the country and nation, and they must be identified.

“The Padma Bridge is a national asset and our pride. If there is no conspiracy, why was the financing for construction of Padma Bridge stopped? Those, who are against the Padma Bridge project and such development, are enemies of the country and the nation, and they must be found out,” the HC bench had said.

Earlier on Sunday (June 26), AKM Amin Uddin Manik prayed to the HC bench for hearing and disposal of the rule.

The High Court on February 15 in 2017 issued the rule asking the government to reply in two weeks as to why it shall not direct to form an inquiry committee or commission to find out the conspirators behind the Padma Bridge construction agreement and the creation of false stories of corruption.

It had also asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to bring the real culprits under justice after identifying them through the commission.

The higher court had asked cabinet, law, home and communication secretaries, chairman of ACC and IGP to reply to the rule within the stipulated time.

The court had also asked the cabinet secretary to submit a report on the steps taken in line with the court’s order to form the commission within 30 days. The state on March 20 in 2017 in a petition pleaded to allow eight weeks time to file the report, and the court granted them time till May 7.

The then HC bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah had issued the rule on a suo-motu move following media reports, citing a Canadian court’s decision to acquit all the three accused of corruption conspiracy. 

Later, the Canadian police sued some top officials of SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian construction firm.

The World Bank, the main financier of the project, eventually withdrew the project after allegations of corruption were brought against senior government officials and ministers. 

The ACC and other agencies investigated the allegations of corruption and found the allegations were false. 

Mosharraf Bhuiyan, now Bangladesh’s ambassador to Germany, spent over 40 days in jail but he later was found innocent. 

In that time, a report was also published in a national daily titled ‘Yunus demands justice: Awami League and like-minded parties unite’.

The dream bridge, built with the country’s own finds, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (June 25) and was opened to traffic a day later.

The Awami League government had taken the initiative to build the Padma Bridge in 1998 and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the Padma Bridge on 4 July in 2001. She inaugurated the construction of the main bridge on December 12 in 2015.

The Padma Bridge will contribute to the GDP, create employment opportunities and generate economic activities in the southern part of Bangladesh.