Amar Desh’s acting editor again in legal tangleStaff Correspondent
The High Court on Monday asked daily Amar Desh’s acting editor Mahmudur Rahman and a reporter concerned to explain in two weeks why contempt proceedings should not be drawn against them for publishing a report alleging that Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury owned three houses in London after becoming a Supreme Court judge.
In a rule issued suo moto, the bench of Justice Shamsuddin Choudhury and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain also asked 19 expatriate leaders of the United Kingdom unit of Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum
and Jatiyatabadi Legal Aid Committee, which is backed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for making the allegation at a press briefing in London on June 14.
The court also asked Mahmudur, along with 19 leaders and solicitors and barristers, to appear before it on July 18 to explain their positions over the ‘false and imaginary’ report published in the daily’s June 17 issue under caption ‘Ainjibi Forum raised question about one more house of Justice Manik (Shamsuddin Choudury) in London’.
The court also asked solicitors and the barristers to explain why they should not be referred to the authorities of the Law Society and the British Bar Council for making a ‘spurious and horrendous’ allegation against Justice Shamsuddin, who, being a barrister, is also a member of the British Bar Council.
During the hearing, Justice Shamsuddin termed the report ‘yellowest journalism’, saying it was not substantiated with relevant documents and evidence.
Justice Shamsuddin said he had owned a house in London in 1982 or 1983, being a highly paid immigrant worker, and he was not appointed as judge of Bangladesh at that period.
He also said he had part-time jobs as well as his law practice from 2003 to 2009.
Shamsuddin, who was among the 11 additional judges who was dropped during the BNP-Jamaat tenure, was reappointed on 25 March, 2009, following a verdict of the Supreme Court.
The report said that Justice Shamsuddin had a total of four houses, three of which — one in Newham, one in Dagenhan and other in Wandsworth — he had owned while serving as a judge of the Supreme Court.
It also said that his brother, Barrister Omar Faruk, also owned a house in London while he was a student.
Justice Shamsuddin said that it was ‘irresponsible journalism’ as the report was based on the briefing which had no evidence to back the allegation.
The newspaper authorities should print such news after checking all documents, he said, and underscored the need for enactment of a harsh law to prevent such baseless and malicious reporting.
The court heard pro-Awami League lawyers Rokanuddin Mahmud, Shafiuddin, SM Rezaul Karim, and pro-BNP lawyers Ruhul Quddus, who made their submission at the request of Justice Shamsuddin.
All but Ruhul argued for issuance of the contempt rule against the accused persons.
Besides Mahmudur Rahman, the other contemnors are Barristers Anwar Hossain, Iqbal Hossain, Tamiz Uddin, Tariq Bin Aziz, Alimul Haque Liton, Hamidul Haque Afindi Liton, Mohiuddin, Abu Morshed Yusuf and Osman, solicitors Biplob Paddar, Abu Taher, and Rafiq Ahmed, and lawyers Nasrin Akhter, Naser Khan Apu, Moin Uddin, Mahbubul Haq, Abul Bashar, Harun and Iftekhar.
This is the second contempt rule the bench issued against Mahmudur Rahman, who served a six-month jail term slapped earlier by the Appellate Division on another contempt charge.
The same court issued the first contempt rule against Mahmudur on June 17 on charge of printing a report, published earlier, which said that Justice Shamsuddin attended a party in a city hotel where he had held a meeting with more than one aggrieved lawmaker, who had demanded his removal from service by the Supreme Judicial Council, and came to a compromise on the dispute between the speaker and him over their remarks on the legislature and the judiciary.
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