DHAKA: The Bangladesh High Court has sought relevant documents, including the birth registration and academic qualification certificates, of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to determine her genuine date of birth, according to media reports.
The virtual High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Sardar Md Rashed Jahangir issued the order on Sunday after hearing a writ petition filed on May 31 by Supreme Court lawyer Md Mamun-or-Rashid challenging the legality of celebrating the birthday of 75-year-old Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief on August 15.
The court on Sunday summoned the birth registration, passport, educational certificate, and other documents regarding Zia's date of birth from her, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported.
In response to the writ petition, the court asked authorities concerned to provide the record to it in 60 days.
Zia is serving a 17-year prison term in two graft cases since February 8, 2018.
In the petition, the lawyer said it is a matter of great distress for the nation that Zia has mentioned her date of birth as being August 15, 1946, in her present passport with the ulterior motive and malafide intention of maligning the National Mourning Day when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members were brutally killed in 1975, the report added.
The petitioner said Zia's birthday is recorded as September 5, 1946, in her SSC certificate; August 4, 1944, in her marriage registration; August 5, 1946, in her machine-readable passport issued in 2001; and May 8, 1946, in her COVID-19 test report released on May 8, 2021.
However, BNP Joint Secretary-General and former Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon opposed the writ petition saying the writ petitioner has filed the petition in order to achieve political gain.
Thousands of people, including Zia, were born on August 15, he said, adding it is not for the HC to deal with matters like birthdays.
Zia was sent to jail by a court for embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and president Ziaur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.
Rehman, a military ruler-turned-politician, was the founder of the BNP.
She was convicted in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.