Monday, December 17, 2018

Letter on ex-judge Joynul Abedin tarnishes the image of SC, observes a High Court bench

  • Staff Correspondent
    Published: 2017-11-14 20:09:26 BdST


A High Court bench has said that the letter issued from the SC office to block the anticorruption regulator’s probe into former Appellate Division judge Joynul Abedin, tarnishes the image of the apex court.

The bench comprising Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim also observed on Tuesday that the letter signed by an additional registrar "does in no way carry the opinions of the Supreme Court."

Earlier on Oct 9, the High Court issued the rule asking why the letter of the Supreme Court objecting to Anti-Corruption Commission’s probe into Justice Abedin should not be declared illegal.

SC lawyer Md Badiuzzaman Tofadar drew the High Court’s attention toward the letter on Mar 28. 

The letter carries the signature of Appellate Division Additional Registrar Arunava Chakraborty.

The letter had 'misinformation' about the probe against Abedin, the court said on Tuesday.

The court made seven observations where it said that any allegation of criminal offence against anyone accept the president of the country must be investigated.

It expressed displeasure over the fact that the Anti-Corruption Commission or ACC failed to finish the investigation against Abedin in seven years.

It, however, asked the ACC to be careful while probing retired justices warning it to make sure that they are not defamed or subjected to unnecessary harassment.

Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, who stepped down as the chief justice on Saturday amid criticism by the ruling party, also came under fire for allowing the letter to go through.

It was asked if the High Court had the authority to scrutinise the letter issued by the Supreme Court.

The court said in its verdict that the "rule is maintainable."

The High Court sought guidance from Supreme Court Bar Association President Advocate Zainul Abedin, AM Amin Uddin and Prabir Niyogi for the hearing.

Barrister Moinul Hossain represented Abedin while Khurshid Alam Khan stood for the ACC on Tuesday.

“According to the verdict and observations, the letter may trigger confusion among people. This letter was not served by the Supreme Court. We can call it illegal,” Khan told reporters.

Barrister Moinul Hossain, however, described the HC verdict as “positive” without further comments.

Joynul Abedin joined the High Court as a judge in 1991. He retired from the Appellate Division in 2009.

The ACC served notice on him in 2010 asking for an account of his wealth on suspicion that he had accumulated assets beyond known sources.

Justice Abedin challenged the notice in the High Court on Jul 25, 2010. Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah and Justice Md Rezaul Haque heard his writ petition and dismissed it.

On Mar 2 this year, the ACC accused Abedin of money laundering and sent a letter to the Supreme Court seeking related documents.

In reply, in a letter signed by the then Additional Registrar Arunava Chakraborty, the SC said: “The Supreme Court feels that ACC must not take any action against former judge Joynul Abedin.”

The letter called on the law ministry and other authorities not to proceed with any investigation without consulting the Supreme Court in case charges of corruption or violation of code of conduct are raised against any official of the judiciary.

Justice SK Sinha, who was already criticised by the MPs for scrapping the 16th constitutional amendment, came under fire for “obstruction of justice”.

“By issuing the letter, Justice SK Sinha has hindered justice,” Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury said.

Lawyers claimed during hearings of the writ petition that the Supreme Court provided information on Justice Abedin to the ACC.

Justice Abedin secured bail in advance from the High Court when the threat of arrest loomed.