Statement by Grameen Bank: Legal Challenge to Professor Yunus' "Removal" From Grameen Bank

Mar 03, 2011

Today Professor Muhammad, Bangladesh's Nobel Peace Laureate, Managing Director of the Grameen Bank, and 9 Directors of the Bank brought separate legal challenges in the High Court to orders of the Bangladesh Bank stating that he had been ‘relieved from his post' as his appointment was not valid as he had crossed the age of 60.

Their lawyers argued that:

- The letter issued on February 27, 2011 by Central Bank, which stated an opinion that "it is not valid for Professor Yunus to continue holding the post of Managing Director of Grameen Bank", and the letter dated March 2, 2011 and also issued by Central Bank, and stating that Professor Yunus is "relieved from the position of Managing Director of Grameen Bank, are both without lawful authority and in violation of Professor Yunus' fundamental rights under Articles 27, 31 and 40 of the Constitution of Bangladesh.

- Professor Yunus was appointed Managing Director of Grameen Bank in 1983, in full accordance with the Ordinance that created Grameen Bank (the Grameen Bank Ordinance of 1983, referred to as the "Ordinance"), and with the full agreement of the Central Bank

- Such was the case, too, after the Ordinance was amended in 1990

• In 1999, when Professor Yunus was about to reach the age of 60, the age limit as contained in the Service Regulations of Grameen Bank of 1993 for Grameen Bank employees, the Board unanimously decided that this limit should not apply to the Managing Director. The Bangladesh Bank has a very limited role to play, which is to accord prior approval to the appointment of the MD. In the case of Professor Yunus, the Bangladesh Bank had given such approval long ago in 1990. Later in 1999, the Bangladesh Bank queried the issue of whether Grameen Bank had obtained further approval. The Grameen Bank responded to these queries, and Bangladesh Bank raised no further objection.

• For over 11 years the Bangladesh Bank annually and regularly approved Grameen Bank activities and operations, The orders challenged came after these 11 years of no questions being raised and no show cause notice having been issued on Professor Yunus.

In addition to the above, the Finance Minister said today that the Board of Directors, which includes three government appointees - one of them the Chairman- decided to waive the retirement age limit for Professor Yunus once he reached the age of 60.

Nine of the Directors of Grameen Bank also challenged the validity of the Central Bank's authority to remove Professor Yunus from his rightfully appointed position. These nine Directors represent the borrowers of Grameen Bank, who are also the majority owners of the Bank.

The High Court will pass orders on Sunday. In the meantime, it has told the Government not to take any steps that may be adverse to Professor Yunus.

Dr Kamal Hossain, Counsel for Professor Yunus, stated ‘Grameen Bank is a unique institution, and one which we are proud to say is owned almost wholly by poor women from across rural Bangladesh, who have changed their lives and those of their children and communities. We have come to Court today on behalf of 9 of the Elected Directors of Grameen Bank, and for Professor Yunus, whose vision gave the Bank its shape and form.

Professor Yunus has helped to change the face of Bangladesh, and to change millions of lives for the better. All we ask is - why should he not be treated with respect and dignity?"

Dr. Kamal Hossain, Mr Mahmudul Islam, Mr Rokonuddin Mahmud, Dr. Zahir and Mr Kamal ul Alam, with Ms Sara Hossain, Mr Mostafizur Rahman and Mr Tanim Hossain Shawon appeared for Professor Yunus and the 9 elected Directors.

The Attorney General, and the Addl Attorney General, MK Rahman, appeared for the State. The hearing was held before Mr. Justice Md Momtazuddin Ahmed and Mr. Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore.
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