DHAKA, BANGLADESH - Bangladesh's High Court on Monday asked micro-credit pioneer and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to surrender to a labor court by Nov. 7 over the firing of three employees by Grameen Communications, where he is chairman.
The order came in response to a petition seeking a stay of an arrest warrant for Yunus issued by the labor court last month, when he was abroad.
A two-judge panel at the High Court asked the authorities not to arrest or harass Yunus before he surrenders by Nov. 7, said his lawyer, Rokanuddin Mahmud.
The three employees filed the cases in July, saying they were terminated illegally after seeking to form a trade union.
Yunus founded Grameen Bank, which provides small loans to impoverished people and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with him. He has faced several investigations by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has frosty relations with him. He was removed from the bank after surpassing retirement age.
A government-appointed investigation found that Grameen Bank violated its charter as a micro-lender by creating affiliates that did not benefit the bank's shareholders, and recommended the government merge those businesses with the bank. Yunus maintains those businesses are independent and should remain so.
Hasina was reportedly angered by Yunus' 2007 attempt to form his own political party backed by the influential army when the country was under a state of emergency and Hasina was behind bars. Hasina came to power in a 2008 election and ordered an investigation of Yunus.
Currently Grameen Bank has about 9 million members, 97% of whom are women. With 2,568 branches, the bank provides services in 81,677 villages, covering more than 93% of the total villages in Bangladesh.