Hiren Pandit: The law is equal for all even if it is a Nobel winner economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Our judicial system is independent, how do they interfere with the judgment of the court? Law is equal for all, be it a Nobel laureate or anyone else. Nobel winner deprived the working people and evaded the country’s taxes, this cannot happen. Is there a different law for Nobel laureates in Bangladesh? So, we would like to say to those civilized society promoters and conscientious people who maintain etiquette. Don’t try to interfere in everything.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who was once admired at home and abroad for his efforts to eradicate poverty, is controversial in Bangladesh due to allegations of influencing the World Bank to cancel funding for the Padma Bridge, tax evasion, illegal transfer of donor funds, abuse of power and violation of foreign travel rules.
Many feel that the role significantly diminished his reputation. An allegation has surfaced against Dr. Yunus that he illegally settled 110 cases filed against him by Grameen Telecom Union workers and employees for crores of taka. He was also in controversy in 2015 when the Bangladesh Revenue Authority summoned him for non-payment of taxes equivalent to over US$1.51 million.
This type of news and statements does not attract the attention of world-renowned individuals. Because Dr. Yunus is well known internationally and high-profile people of the world are his friends or beneficiaries. In March 2011, Dr. Yunus was asked to resign as CEO of Grameen Bank in violation of the country’s retirement law, which states that the retirement age is 60. Dr. Yunus was 70 years old. The country’s largest structure Padma Bridge project behind the move of the World Bank. It was also alleged that Dr. Yunus had a hand. Later, after the alleged corruption charges were dismissed by a Canadian court in 2017, everyone in Bangladesh considered it a conspiracy.
Many people dedicated to the service of humanity are the most tortured people in the world to protect the Rohingyas. Many feel that Dr. Yunus has shown little interest as a responsible citizen. Dr. Yunus must understand the situation and refrain from any controversy against the laws of Bangladesh. Doubt about benefits should not go against the beloved motherland and the country’s people. This is the duty of every conscious citizen of ours. Only then will the people of our country be well, and our motherland can be placed in the seat of honor and glory in the international world.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s thought is to serve the people of this country. No developed country has such philanthropic activities. They have pension plans only for employees. People’s leader Sheikh Hasina has involved all the citizens of the country through a universal pension system. Sheikh Hasina’s dream is to build a beautiful future for the next generation. She is working to ensure that our next generation and daughters can face the fourth industrial revolution.
Chairman of Grameen Telecom and Nobel laureate economist in the case of violation of labor law Khurshid Alam Khan, the lawyer for the Directorate of Inspection of Factories and Institutions expressed satisfaction with the verdict of Muhammad Yunus. He said, “This has proved that there is a rule of law in Bangladesh. No matter how big he is, no one is above the law. He further said, ‘When you are running the organization under the labor law, the labor law must be obeyed. You’re a Nobel laureate, that doesn’t mean you don’t obey labor laws.’ Khurshid Alam said, “Based on documentary evidence, the Third Labor Court of Dhaka has decided, that we have been able to prove beyond doubt the case filed by the Department of Inspection of Factories and Institutions for violating the labor law.”
A labor court in Bangladesh’s capital Monday sentenced Muhammad Yunus to six months in jail for violating the country’s labor laws. Yunus, who works microcredit to help impoverished people, was present in court and was granted bail. The court gave Yunus 30 days to appeal the verdict and sentence. Grameen Telecom, which Yunus founded as a non-profit organization, is at the center of the case.
Sheikh Merina Sultana, head of the Third Labor Court of Dhaka, said in her verdict that Muhammad Yunus’ company violated Bangladeshi labor laws. She said at least 67 Grameen Telecom workers were supposed to be made permanent employees but were not, and a “welfare fund” to support the staff in cases of emergency or special needs was never formed. She also said that, following company policy, 5% of Grameen’s dividends were supposed to be distributed to staff but were not.
Sultana found Muhammad Yunus, chairman of the company, and three other company directors guilty, sentencing each to six months in jail. Yunus was also fined 30,000 takas, or $260. Muhammad Yunus said he would appeal. In addition to 6 months imprisonment without work, the court granted 1-month bail on the condition of a 30 thousand taka fine and appeal. As a result, Dr. Yunus does not have to go to prison. Muhammad Yunus and the other three accused.
The court sentenced 4 people including Muhammad Yunus to six months imprisonment. Dhaka Labor Court-3 judge Begum Sheikh Marina Sultana announced the verdict on Monday afternoon. Other accused in this case are Grameen Telecom Managing Director (MD) Ashraful Hasan, Director Nurjahan Begum and Md. Shah Jahan. The court also sentenced them to 6 months of unpaid work. In addition, a fine of 30 thousand taka and 1 month bail has been given on the condition of appeal.
In observing the verdict, the court said, “The defendant has presented a complimentary statement about the accused number one. Where he has been called a Nobel laureate international figure fighting poverty. But Nobel laureate Yunus is not being tried in this court, he is being tried as the chairman of Grameen Telecom. At this time, the court said, ‘Dr Yunus’s allegations of violation of labor laws against four persons including Dr. Yunus have been proved beyond doubt. It is proven that Gramin Telecom has violated labor laws.
Muhammad Yunus cannot avoid responsibility. Their organization violated the ongoing laws of the country. They have made the employment rules of the workers in their law, it is not following the labor law. On September 9, 2021, in the Third Labor Court of Dhaka, Arifuzzaman, the labor inspector of the Directorate of Factories and Institutions, became the plaintiff. He filed this case against four people including Muhammad Yunus. It is said in the complaint of the workers in the case, the officials of the Directorate of Factories and Institutions. Visit Grameen Telecom in Yunus.
Going there, they learned about the violation of labor laws. Among them, 101 workers were supposed to be made permanent, but they were not made permanent. Workers’ Participation Fund and Welfare Fund have not been constituted. Apart from this, 5 percent of the company’s dividend was supposed to be given to the workers, but it was not given. Before this, the testimony in this case started on August 22. After the testimony, the defendants stated in defense on November 8.
On May 8, against the rejection of the application for cancellation of the case. The Appellate Division dismissed Muhammad Yunus’ leave to appeal. Then on June 6, the court ordered the trial to begin by framing charges against him. Four defendants including Muhammad Yunus submitted their written statement in defense to the court. It is said that the business activities carried out by Grameen Telecom are contractual.
It is administered by renewal at the end of the specified period. Grameen Telecom’s projects Nokia Care and Polyphone are operated under a three-year contract. It is renewed at the end of the term. Since Grameen Telecom’s operations are conducted on a contract basis, all the officers and employees have been appointed on a contract basis. The written statement also said that as per Section 28 of the Act, Gramin Telecom Company is a non-profit making organization. Its dividend is not distributable. As a result, five percent of the principal dividend is not allowed to contribute to the contribution fund and welfare fund.
However, the Grameen Telecom employee’s union filed a case in the labor court hoping to get the money. The Department of Inspection of Factories and Institutions was informed that the case is ongoing. Action will be taken as the court decides. Violation of labor laws, misappropriation of workers’ welfare fund, violation of labor laws, violations of company laws, and cases filed by workers are being tried, it is the duty of the labor court to ensure that the workers get a fair trial. The workers sued and their welfare firm had not been paid since 2006 after raising claims and firing them when they sued for an out-of-court settlement.
“We think business owners will now be more cautious about violating labor laws. No one is above the law,” prosecutor Khurshid Alam Khan told The Associated Press. Grameen Telecom owns 34.2% of the country’s largest mobile phone company, Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Norway’s telecom giant Telenor. As Muhammad Yunus is known to have close connections with political elites in the West, especially in the United States, many think the verdict could negatively impact Bangladesh’s relationship with the U.S. But Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Monday said relations between Bangladesh and the U.S. would likely not be affected by an issue involving a single individual.
It is normal not to have an impact on the state-to-state relations for an individual quoted Dr. Abdul Momen as saying the Nobel laureate faces an array of other charges involving alleged corruption and embezzlement. In August, more than 170 global leaders and Nobel laureates in an open letter urged Hasina to suspend all legal proceedings against Yunus. The leaders, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and more than 100 Nobel laureates, said in the letter that they were deeply concerned by recent threats to democracy and human rights in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina responded sharply and said she would welcome international experts and lawyers to come to Bangladesh to assess the legal proceedings and examine documents involving the charges against Yunus. In 1983, Yunus founded Grameen Bank, which gives small loans to entrepreneurs who would not normally qualify for bank loans. The bank’s success in lifting people out of poverty led to similar microfinancing efforts in other countries.
Muhammad Yunus violated labor laws, misappropriation of workers’ welfare fund, violation of labor laws, and violations of company laws, cases filed by workers are being tried, and the labor court must ensure that the workers get a fair trial. The laborers have sued and their welfare firm has not paid money since 2006. After raising their claims, they were fired when they sued two labor leaders for an out-of-court settlement of Taka 3 crore.
Mohammad Yunus tried to compromise, but since everyone didn’t get their money, the lawsuit is ongoing. Embezzlement of workers’ money, violation of rights, bribery, these are not crimes? Isn’t it a crime to embezzle money from workers without paying them fair money, bribing labor leaders, breaking labor laws, bribery, and corruption? The judgment of Muhammad Yunus proved no one is above the law in Bangladesh.
The writer is a, columnist and researcher