A British parliamentarian and lawyer who was denied entry to India on Wednesday after his e-visa was revoked by the Indian authorities over inappropriate documentation has described the claims as “preposterous”.
Lord Alexander Carlile, a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords and legal expert, said he was travelling on the correct visa with the intention of addressing the media in New Delhi to “lay bare the unfair and unjust approach” of the Bangladesh authorities in the case of his client, former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia.
“My visa application was totally correct, and never queried till revoked. The Indian claim is preposterous,” Lord Carlile said.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson had earlier said that the reason the British barrister had been denied entry upon arrival in New Delhi was ecause “his intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application”.
Lord Carlile was appointed by the Bangladesh Opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), earlier this year to represent Khaleda Zia, who is fighting a string of criminal charges filed against her.
The House of Lords member said he had decided to make the journey to India for its “free media” after the Sheikh Hasina led Bangladesh government had “deliberately” delayed a decision over granting him a visa to Dhaka.
“I have to express my alarm about the control of the judiciary by the government of Bangladesh in its various forms,” he said.
He added: “In summary, in the various proceedings against my client there is no admissible evidence against her of dishonesty or other criminal activity.
“Judgement and imprisonment are founded upon assertions that amount to guilt by association – because she knows someone or is close to them, she is held liable for their alleged dishonesty. This is an outrage against the normal burden and standard of proof.”
He accused the Bangladesh government of keeping Khaleda Zia, her UK-based son Tarique Rahman, and their party out of effective Bangladesh politics and the forthcoming election, which is an “affront to democracy”.
“The end goal is clear – it is to keep the BNP and the Zia family out of politics with frivolous cases with the aid of the judiciary since people at large place a lot of faith in any judicial process,” he said.
Khaleda Zia remains in jail since she was sentenced in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case in February.
"In the Zia Orphanage Trust Case, in which my client has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, procedural irregularities have been used by the prosecution to deny her bail pending her appeal, and in other respects," her lawyer said.
Carlile stressed that his interest in the case is only as "one of the team of counsel" instructed on her behalf to examine the evidence and judgements against her and to advise and comment as to whether they fall within international and Common Law Rule of Law norms, which are applicable in Bangladesh.
"Last week’s media attack on me by the Attorney General for my mere involvement as counsel, in this case, demonstrates an example of the venal sin of political interference in a court case. Also, hearings are manipulated to be placed before judges who were Awami League activists before being elevated to the Bench," he pointed out.
Carlile sought to highlight the flaws in each of the cases against Khaleda Zia and her son, whose trial in his absence he described as a "travesty".