New Delhi: A former chief justice of Bangladesh, Surendra Kumar Sinha, popularly known as S.K. Sinha has hit the headlines in Bangladesh after he was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment.
A Dhaka court has ordered to serve seven years for money laundering and the remaining four of the 11 years for breach of trust.
Of course, Sinha is not in Bangladesh and was tried in absentia after the state-run Anti-Corruption Commission framed charges against him in 2018.
The 70-year-old Sinha and ten others were charged with laundering money equivalent to US$475,000 via-a-vis illicit nexus officials of Farmers Bank, a private bank.
Bangladesh Law Minister, Anisul Haque, has said that the verdict against Sinha proves "no one is above law." Now, there is another version of the story.
Sinha had left Bangladesh in 2017 and is reportedly now living in the United States. Interestingly, Justice Sinha was considered close to Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League. He was chief justice of the Supreme Court from Jan. 17, 2015, to Nov. 11, 2017. He had left the country while in office and resigned from his post during his temporary stay in Canada.
Of course, he has been the only member of the religious minority, Hindu, and an ethnic minority, Manipuri, to serve as chief justice since Bangladesh was carved out of Pakistan in 1971.
In 2018, Sinha had penned a book 'A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy'. In the book, he had claimed that the powerful military intelligence agency DGFI had threatened him to resign from his post and 'forced' him to leave the country in 2017.
He also alleged that the security agencies often intimidate judges to deliver judgments in favour of the government.
In 2018, Law Minister Anisul Huq had said that Justice Sinha had published the book out of frustration. "He was at the center of a group that wanted to stage a judicial coup to destabilize the government," the Law Minister had claimed. But religious minorities groups and leaders have flayed the latest judgement, sentencing Sinha to 11 years in jail.
Monindra Kumar Nath, joint secretary of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Parishad, has been quoted as saying: "…. there is no doubt that this verdict against him resulted from his anti-government stance".
The Manipuri Hindus reside in Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj regions. The ruling Awami League is generally known in Bangladesh for being minority-friendly. Recently, there was violence against Hindus during Durga Puja in the country, embarrassing the Sheikh Hasina regime.