Dr Yunus to remain guilty until appeal disposed

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The High Court cancelled the Labour Appellate Tribunal’s stay order on the conviction of four top officials of Grameen Telecom, including Nobel Laureate economist Dr Muhammad Yunus, in a labour law violation case and verdict against them.

The Supreme Court on its website published a full report of 50 pages on Wednesday.

On 18 March, the HC bench of justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and justice Kazi Ebadoth Hossain passed the order.

According to the full report, conviction of four including Dr Yunus will remain until the appeal is disposed of. There is no rule to stay conviction during the trial of appeal. This conviction can be cancelled, upheld and amended through the disposal of the appeal.

The verdict says four people have obtained bail from the Labour Appellate Tribunal. There is no necessity to stay sentence as their sentence had automatically been suspended after obtaining bail. So their sentence will remain stayed until they are on bail.

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The fine imposed by the Labour Appellate Tribunal will remain stayed until the appeal is disposed of. The Labour Appellate Tribunal chairman will dispose of the appeal as soon as possible. They have been instructed to inform the Labour Appellate Tribunal if they go abroad.

The third labour court in Dhaka sentenced Dr Muhammad Yunus and three others to six months imprisonment and fined Tk 30,000 each in a case the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) filed on charges of violation of labour laws. The verdict was announced on 1 January in 2024.

The three others are  - Grameen Telecom’s former managing director Ashraful Hassan, and directors Nurjahan Begum and Md Shahjahan.

Dr Yunus and three others filed an appeal against the verdict on 28 January and the Labour Appellate Tribunal accepted the appeal for hearing that day. The tribunal stayed the third labour court’s verdict until 3 March and granted bail to the four.

In this context, the plaintiff on 4 February filed for a criminal revision to the High Court challenging certain sections of the Labour Appellate Tribunal's stay order on the verdict of the third labour court.

The HC on 5 February issued an order along with a ruling after a primary hearing on the appeal filed by plaintiff DIFE.

The rule asked as to why the Labour Appellate Tribunal’s 28 January stay on the Third Labour Court’s 1 January order will not be cancelled.

After hearing on the ruling, the High Court, considering several points, announced the Third Labour Court’s verdict as absolute on 18 March.

Senior lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan represented the DIFE in the hearing while lawyer Abdullah Al MAmun along with Khawaza Tanvir Ahmed represented Dr Muhammad Yunus and three others.

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Speaking to Prothom Alo on Wednesday, the DIFE lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, "We have received the copy of the full verdict. Upon receipt of a copy of HC verdict, a date is set for holding a hearing in the Labour Appellate Tribunal on Thursday. A petition will be filed to hold a hearing of the appeal of four people including Dr Yunus."

Lawyer of the four including Dr Yunus, Abdullah Al Mamun, speaking to Prothom Alo, said although the copy of full verdict is sought but was not given from the section concerned till 12:30pm. After obtaining the copy, the next course of action will be taken.