Speaker’s R&H remarks irk HCStaff Correspondent
The High Court on Tuesday said the remarks of speaker Abdul Hamid in parliament on May 29 on its decision to relocate the Roads and Highways Department elsewhere was tantamount to ‘sedition’.
The bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Jahangir Hossain came up with the view during the hearing in the petitions seeking contempt of court proceedings against the communications secretary and roads and highways chief engineer for delaying implementation of
the verdict it had delivered in 2011 to hand over the land to the Supreme Court relocating the department elsewhere.
The speaker on May 29 reportedly told the house, ‘No one should think they are superior. If I, being the speaker, think I am superior, it is not right. If the government wants to do everything at whims it is not right. Again, if the judiciary thinks they can do whatever they want, that is also not good.’
‘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,’ Hamid said requesting the judges of the Supreme Court to be judicious about their decisions where public interests are involved.
If the office of Roads and Highways is vacated on a short notice, the entire activities of the department across the country will be stopped, and the government will be paralysed, Hamid had said.
As Supreme Court lawyer Manzill Murshid on Tuesday drew the court’s attention to reports carried by different dailies on the speaker’s remarks, Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury said it was ‘tantamount to sedition’ as it meant to unleash people against the government as well the Supreme Court.
Manzill Murshid was the lawyer of the writ petition filed by his organisation Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh for recovering the Supreme Court’s land occupied by the Roads and Highways Department.
‘We summoned a professor [Asif Nazrul] on allegations that he had made treasonous statement [in a televised talk-show] with the apprehension of “third force” intervention. The speaker’s remarks are much more dangerous than that of [Asif],’ said Justice Shamsuddin.
He said that the speaker had put parliament and the Supreme Court at loggerheads.
Justice Shamsuddin said the speaker had abused the privilege of members of parliament, who were immune from prosecution on charge of contempt of court for making any statements in the house.
The speaker has no right to take part in any debate in parliament and he has to regulate the procedure presiding over the sessions, the judge observed.
According to the rules of procedure, no subjudice matter can be discussed in parliament, he said adding that the speaker should not have entertained the discussion on the issue since it was pending with the High Court.
It is a general principle that one cannot make any comments against any person, who is absent, the judge said terming unparliamentary and unconstitutional the language the speaker had used.
‘The speaker has grossly violated the Rules of the Procedures of the Parliament, said Justice Shamsuddin adding, ‘We are sorry to say that he has lost his right to hold the office.’
The judge also questioned whether the speaker had any knowledge of the constitution.
Referring to the speaker’s remarks that the High Court had expeditiously disposed of the writ petition to recover its land, the judge said that the speaker had no knowledge of the procedures in writ petitions as he had not practised in the High Court.
‘It was utter ignorance of the speaker about the SC and the constitution. We are frustrated, amazed and puzzled over the speaker’s remarks,’ he said.
He also referred to two cases of 19th century in London where the speaker and a supreme court judge had summoned each other. Ultimately, the matter was resolved in favour of the supreme court by interference of the Queen, he added.
Supreme Court lawyer Nurul Islam Sujan, also a ruling party lawmaker, said he was present in the session and the speaker might have been misquoted by the newspapers.
Former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, also a lawmaker, said the court should overlook the matter as he personally knew the speaker and he could not make such statement.
The judge asked the Supreme Court Bar Association vice-president KM Saifuddin whether the court could ask the Bar Council to take action against Hamid as he was also a Supreme Court lawyer.
The lawyers said that being the speaker, his membership remained suspended.
The court, however, passed an order with some observations against the speaker as Khasru and Sujan interrupted with assurances that matter would be discussed in parliament.
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