Haji Selim sent to jail in graft case

Haji Md Selim surrenders before a court in Dhaka on 22 May 2022.
Dipu Malakar

A court in Dhaka has sent lawmaker Haji Salim to jail in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over amassing wealth beyond known sources.

Dhaka Special Judge Court-7 passed the order on Sunday after the lawmaker surrendered at the court seeking bail.

The court rejected his bail plea and ordered him to be sent to jail.

Earlier on 10 February, the full text of the High Court’s verdict was published upholding the 10-year imprisonment sentence of Haji Salim in this graft case.

The top court ordered him to surrender before the Dhaka Special Judge Court-7 within 30 days of receiving the verdict.

A lawmaker from Dhaka-7 constituency, Haji Salim had been behind bars for a month in this case 13 years ago but he was later walked out of jail on bail. In the meantime, he was elected a member of parliament twice.

On 24 September 2007, the ACC filed a case against Haji Salim and his wife Gulshan Ara on allegations of amassing wealth beyond known sources and concealing information in their wealth statements.

The trial court delivered its verdict on 27 April 2008, sentencing Haji Selim to 13 years in jail. He faced 10-year imprisonment on charges of amassing wealth beyond known sources and a fine of Tk 1 million (10 lakh). Failure to pay the fine will result in an additional year of imprisonment. He faced another three-year imprisonment for concealing information in his wealth statement. The verdict said Haji Salim will serve both sentences simultaneously.

Haji Salim’s wife Gulshan Ara was jailed for three years for aiding and abetting her husband. She was also fined Tk 100,000 and failure to pay the fine will result in six more months in prison.

The court also ordered to seize the wealth worth about 270 million illegally amassed wealth by them and deposit it with the state exchequer.

Haji Salim, however, appealed to the High Court in 2009 challenging the trial court’s verdict and his wife Gulshan Ara appealed in 2013.

After hearing his appeal, the top court overturned Haji Salim’s sentence on 2 January 2011 but the ACC appealed to the Appellate Division against the High Court’s verdict.

On 12 January 2015, the Appellate Division cancelled the High Court’s verdict and asked the latter to re-hear the petition filed by Haji Salim.

Haji Salim’s wife Gulshan Ara, however, died on 29 November 2020.

The High Court on 31 January last began the hearing on Haji Salim’s appeal along with the petition filed by his wife.

After completing the hearing on both petitions, the High Court gave its verdict on 9 March 2021.

The top court upheld the lower court order sentencing him to 10 years jail on charges of amassing wealth beyond known sources and acquitted him of a three-year jail term for concealing wealth information.

As Gulshan Ara died, her appeal was dropped.

Recently Haji Salim left the country in strict secrecy, sparking huge criticism. Demands were made to punish those who assisted Haji Salim to leave the country despite being a convict and the lawmaker returned to country later.