Remarks against speaker
MPs want HC judge removed in 3 daysAbdullah Juberee
Lawmakers on Tuesday requested the president and the chief justice to remove a High Court judge in three days by constituting Supreme Judicial Council for his alleged violation of the constitution.
The ruling coalition MPs in an unscheduled discussion on Justice AHM Shamshuddin Chowdhury’s observation that the speaker had committed treason by his comments on an apex court decision, and set the three-day deadline for forming the three-member council headed by the chief justice, the only authorised body to remove judges for misconduct or charter violation.
Otherwise, they threatened that the house would restore its constitutional authority to impeach judges by the legislature.
The house became heated over an observation of the bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Jahangir Hossain on Tuesday that speaker Abdul Hamid’s remarks was tantamount to ‘sedition’. The bench said that the speaker had caused a dispute between the parliament and the Supreme Court.
The speaker, Abdul Hamid, on May 29 had said, ‘If parliament passes acts against the people, they would naturally react; if the government becomes autocrat, it faces wrath of the people and there are many instances of mass uprising. If the court goes against the people, they will also react.’
The lawmakers also urged the president to initiate the process for formation of the council, which was incorporated in the constitution in 1978 by dropping parliament’s power to impeach judges in cases of misconduct and violation of constitutional provisions.
Deputy speaker Shawkat Ali, who was presiding the sitting, shared the house’s sentiment saying that a decision would be taken in consultation with speaker Abdul Hamid. The leaders of the house, Sheikh Hasina, left the sitting immediately after the debate began.
Justice Shamsuddin while delivering his observation on a public interest litigation said the speaker had committed treason by ‘inciting people against the judiciary’. The judge also took parliament’s proceedings into cognisance apparently going against the Article 78 of the constitution that granted immunity to the lawmakers, the lawmakers said.
‘We have given up parliament’s authority to you [the judiciary] with the belief that democracy has matured; we want you to exercise your [chief justice] authority to remove the judge who has clearly violated the constitution,’ Suranjit Sengupta, a senior minister, told the unscheduled discussion that lasted nearly an hour.
‘We will need only five minutes to bring the authority back to us,’ said Suranjit, one of the framers of the constitution approved in 1972. He said that the judge, who had allegedly violated the constitution by taking into consideration the proceedings of the house, had no right to stay in the chair for a moment.
The judge’s ‘derogatory’ remarks on the speaker amounted to contempt of parliament, he said.
‘We will wait for three days [for formation of the Supreme Judicial Council], otherwise we will bring the parliament’s sovereign power back,’ he said amid applause from the lawmakers. He urged president Zillur Rahman to initiate the formation of the council.
Awami League lawmakers Tofail Ahmed and Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque and Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal took part in the discussion moved by Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon after the recess for evening prayers. The lawmakers censured the judge for his comments.
‘I think time has come to restore Article 96 (authority to impeach the judges) of the 1972 constitution. We could have removed the judge had the constitution contained the article 96,’ said Tofail Ahmed urging the government to amend the constitution to restore parliament’s sovereignty.
‘The house should at least adopt a censure motion against the judge,’ he said adding that this judge seemed to be a ‘sadist’ who was in the habit of taking pleasure by humiliating the respected people of the society.
Tofail said the speaker had told parliament that each of the state organs should not cross their limits and supplement each other for the betterment of the people. The speaker has not asked anyone to stand against any of the state organs. What he meant was that all the organs should work harmoniously.
He said once the same judge had got out of his car and harassed a police constable for not saluting him.
‘He is the person who demanded a front row seat in the business class on a flight holding an economy class ticket,’ Tofail said adding that such a judge could not make comments against the speaker who takes the charge of the state in absence of the president.
The Awami League government during its 1996-2001 tenure appointed the judge, but the BNP government did not confirm the appointment. After returning to office in 2009, the AL government confirmed his appointment as a judge in the High Court.
Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim said judiciary was independent but not above the legislative.
‘The hands of judiciary are not longer than that of legislative,’ said Selim adding, ‘Such a naked attack was not an attack on the speaker alone, it was an attack on parliament.’
‘If the speaker is branded a traitor, are all the lawmakers and the government traitors,’ asked the senior lawmaker.
He said the judiciary could in no way make an observation on the parliamentary proceedings as the constitution had given absolute immunity to the lawmakers for their discussion in the plenary and the committees.
‘I hope, the judiciary will withdraw the judge and uphold the sovereignty of parliament,’ he said adding that the judiciary should offer apology to the speaker.
Narrating the track record of Shamsuddin, Mujibul Haq, said the judge might be a ‘psycho’ who took pleasure in humiliating people. He said Shamsuddin was made a judge at the mercy of Awami League although he had no quality to sit in the position.
He said the judge’s comments had raised the question whether parliament was sovereign. He called for restoration of parliament’s authority to impeach judges.
Rashed Khan Menon, who initiated the debate, demanded a decision from the house on the violation of the constitution by the judge.
Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal termed the court episode an ominous sign. ‘It was seen in Pakistan,’ he said adding that a certain quarter was trying to create chaos when the government was trying to bring order in different sectors.
‘The nation wants your clear direction on this matter,’ he told the chair.
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