Published, New Age, 8 March 2011 (original link not working)
No wrong done to Yunus, AG tells court
David Bergman and M Moneruzzaman
The Attorney General, Mahbubey Alam told the High Court on Monday that, ‘No wrong had been done’ against Muhammed Yunus when the Bangladesh Bank issued its letter relieving the managing director of Grameen Bank from his duties.
‘Getting the Nobel Peace prize is a different matter from the legal one before the court,’ he said.
‘Everyone has a lifetime as a human being, and no one is indispensible,’ the Attorney General said, asking the court not to issue a rule against Bangladesh Bank.
The court said that it would give its order on Tuesday on writ petitions filed by Muhammed Yunus and nine of the Grameen Bank’s directors that challenged the legality of Bangladesh Bank’s 2 March order which removed Muhammed Yunus from the post of managing director.
Earlier in the day, Rokanuddin Mahmud, representing Muhammed Yunus told the court, ‘His client had an apprehension that he might not obtain fair justice from the court.’
It is not the practice of the court to hold such long hearings before deciding whether to issue a rule, he said.
‘If you have any limitations, then we can go to another bench?’ Mahmud asked the judges.
Justices Mumtazuddin Ahmed and Justice Gobindra Chandra Tagore said that they would continue to hear the case.
On the third day of legal arguments, the Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that the 1993 rules that governed the terms and conditions of employees of Grameen Bank, and required staff to retire at the age of 60, applied to Muhammed Yunus.
He argued that the term ‘kormi’ in the 1993 regulations included the managing director. ‘There cannot be any ambiguity about this,’ he said.
He went on to tell the court that because the 1993 regulations applied to all staff, the subsequent 1999 resolution passed at a meeting of Grameen Bank’s Board of Directors, which purported to allow Muhammed Yunus to remain in his post as managing director for an indefinite period, was not lawful.
‘The Board resolution is male fide, and contrary to the 1993 resolutions,’ he said.
The Attorney General also pointed out that in December 1999, the Bangladesh Bank, had informed Grameen Bank, as part of its inspection audit, that the Board resolution earlier that year needed the consent of Bangladesh Bank.
The government’s most senior lawyer argued that although Grameen Bank had written to Bangladesh Bank arguing that it was not necessary for Bangladesh Bank to provide its consent as Yunus had already been appointed in 1990, Bangladesh Bank did not accept Grameen Bank’s argument.
Reading out from minutes of a joint meeting that took place in 2003 between officers from both Bangladesh Bank and Grameen Bank, the attorney general claimed that the matter had not been resolved as had been earlier argued by the petitioner’s lawyers.
Near the end of his argument, the Attorney General pointed out that the Muhammed Yunus wanted to remain involved in the bank by any means.
He read out the letter that Yunus had sent to the finance minister AMA Muhith in which he sought to move from managing director to chairman of Grameen Bank.
Finally, Mahbubey Alam argued that the Bangladesh Bank could legitimately use the powers under section 45(1) of the Banking Companies Act to remove Yunus.
Justice Gobindra Chandra Tagore then asked the attorney general to look at section 45(2) of the legislation.
This states that, ‘Bangladesh Bank may, on representation … cancel or modify any direction issued under this subsection.’
On reading the section, the Attorney General told the court that, ‘There was an efficacious remedy available to the plaintiff,’ by appealing to the Bangladesh Bank which they have not utilized.
Earlier in the afternoon, Rokunuddin argued that Bangladesh Bank was fully aware of the 1999 Board resolution and had not objected to it.
‘Bangladesh Bank never took exception to this.’
He also claimed that although the Bangladesh Bank’s inquiry report raised concerns about the Board resolution, it was resolved at the subsequent meeting.
‘It was deemed that any objection by Bangladesh Bank had been satisfied,’ he said.
Speaking of Bangladesh Bank, Mahmud asked, ‘If you objected to me why did you do business with [Yunus]? This is crying out for an answer. Why for 12 years did you deal with [Yunus]?’