Nobel laureate Yunus will need permission to travel abroad

The High Court hears a review petition on his conviction in a labour law case

Published : 5 Feb 2024, 03:42 PM
Updated : 5 Feb 2024, 03:42 PM

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus will need permission from the Labour Appellate Tribunal to travel abroad until the disposal of an appeal against his six-month prison sentence in a case over labour law violation at Grameen Telecom.

The High Court panel of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Kazi Ebadoth Hossain also suspended a stay on the verdict after hearing a criminal review petition by the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments under the labour and employment ministry on Monday.

“No separate order is needed because a sentence is automatically stayed until the disposal of an appeal after it is granted for hearing,” the senior judge of the bench said, citing the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Dhaka Third Labour Court on Jan 1 handed down the verdict against Grameen Telecom Chairman Yunus, Managing Director Ashraful Hasan, and directors Nurjahan Begum and Md Shahjahan.

The tribunal found them guilty of failing to deliver appointment letters to 101 employees, not paying employees during public holidays, and not submitting the fixed dividends to the Labour Welfare Foundation.

But Yunus, the founding managing director of the Grameen Bank, and the other convicts did not have to start serving time in prison immediately, as the court granted them one month's bail on condition that they use the time to launch an appeal against the ruling.

After hearing their appeal, the Labour Appellate Tribunal upheld bail to Yunus and the other convicts in the case, and fixed Mar 3 to review the case documents and the labour court's verdict.

The tribunal also put a stay on the verdict, but the DIFE challenged the stay in the High Court.

Khurshid Alam Khan, the lawyer for the department, argued on Monday that the appellate tribunal can stay a sentence, but not the conviction.

He alleged such a stay was a violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Khurshid later sought an order for Yunus to get permission before leaving Bangladesh.

Abdullah Al Mamun, the lawyer for Yunus, said DIFE should not have moved the High Court for such a petition. “They could have gone to the tribunal if they had any objection to the order.”

Mamun objected to the plea seeking order on permission to travel abroad.

Yunus informs the court all the time before leaving Bangladesh despite being a respected person and immune to court appearance, according to the lawyer.

After the hearing, the senior judge of the panel ordered Yunus to intimate his plans to travel abroad before leaving the country.