A Dhaka court has sent the four members of the private North South University’s Board of Trustees, who were handed over by the High Court to police over corruption, to jail after they were produced before the trial court.
The court, however, allowed the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to interrogate them at the jail gate for a day in the case filed for embezzling over Tk 304 crore in the name of land purchase for the NSU permanent campus.
The four accused are MA Kashem, Benajir Ahmed, Rehana Rahman and Mohammed Shajahan.
KM Emrul Quayes, judge of Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge’s Court, issued the order on Monday after the Shahbagh Police Station produced the accused before the court.
The judge allowed quizzing them by the anti-graft agency after its Deputy Director Farid Ahmed Patwary, also the investigation officer of the case, applied for interrogation.
On other hand, defence lawyers submitted four separate petitions for providing the trustees with first-class division in jail on grounds that they are holding high-profile social status.
Upon hearing both sides, the judge sent them to jail and directed the jail authorities to provide them with first-class division as per the Jail Code.
Earlier on Sunday, the High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo handed over the four to Shahbagh police, rejecting their anticipatory bail petitions in the case filed by ACC.
The higher court asked police to produce them before the trial court concerned within 24 hours from the time of taking them into their custody.
Following the order, Shahbagh police detained them from the High Court premises and kept them at the police station overnight.
Later, the law enforcers produced them before the Dhaka court on Monday noon, said Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Shahbagh Police Station Mahfuzul Haque.
Earlier on May 5, the ACC filed the corruption case against six persons, including Chairman of the NSU Board of Trustees Azim Uddin Ahmed, who is also the Managing Director of Ashaloy Housing and Developers Ltd, for misappropriation of Tk 303.83 crore in the name of buying land for the campus.
The other accused are NSU Board of Trustee members Amin Mohammad Hilali, who is also the Ashalaya Housing and Developers Limited Managing, MA Kashem, Benazir Ahmed, Rehana Rahman and Muhammad Shahjahan.
Out of six accused, four moved the High Court seeking anticipatory bail.
Earlier, the ACC initiated an investigation into the trustees following a complaint filed by Dr Sufi Sagar Sams, adviser and head of the department of the Protection for Legal and Human Rights Foundation.
ACC acting Secretary Sayeed Mahbub Khan said the number of accused might increase if the evidence is found against someone during the investigation.
According to the case statement, the accused approved a hefty amount for the NSU permanent campus by overpricing the land. Subsequently, the land developer deposited the extra money to the bank accounts of the accused.
According to the ACC, the accused have unjustly benefited themselves by embezzling funds and have committed punishable offenses by exchanging commissions or bribes, states the case. Money laundering also took place through the transfer and conversion of the embezzled amount, it said.
The anti-graft body said it would also initiate separate inquiries to verify several allegations against NSU such as overcharging students, embezzlement of university funds in the name of fixed-deposit receipts, bribes for recruitments, car purchases by evading duties and availing numerous facilities unethically by the university top management.
According to the Private University Act, 2010, the Board of Trustees is the highest governing body of a private university. According to the Memorandum of Association and Articles (Rules and Regulations) of NSU, the university is a charitable, welfare-oriented, non-commercial and non-profit educational institution.
The case states that over 9,088 decimals of land were bought in the name of campus development of NSU with the consent of some members of the Board of Trustees bypassing the approval of the University Syndicate, University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education.