Saturday, October 21, 2017

BNP questions Law Commission chief’s anger over 16th amendment verdict

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-08-10 23:49:21 BdST


The BNP has criticised Law Commission Chairman and former chief justice ABM Khairul Haque for reacting to the appeals verdict declaring the 16th constitutional amendment illegal.

After Law Minister Anisul Huq's formal reaction to the verdict came on Thursday, the BNP said at a media conference that the Law Commission chief and the law minister were 'on the same page’.

"ABM Khairul Haque vented his anger at the Supreme Court verdict before the government or the ruling Awami League would give a formal reaction. It seems that the verdict has got under his skin,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.

"We don't think there is any indifference between the comments of Justice Khairul Haque and Awami League leaders and ministers. All are on the same page. His remarks are the Awami League's remarks," he added.

BNP Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed questioned the news conference of Justice Haque.

"He is an official whose salary comes from the government exchequer. The holding of such a press conference by a government official is totally in breach of the Government Servants Conduct Rules," the former law minister said.

"The objective of his media call has unmasked his partisan political behaviour," he added.

The appeals verdict declaring illegal the 16th amendment has been in the centre of discussions after the publication of the full version on Aug 1.

The Appellate Division verdict has revived the Supreme Judicial Council to sack top court judges. Earlier through the amendment in 2014, parliament took back its powers to sack judges on grounds of incompetence and misconduct.

The BNP has welcomed the verdict, terming it a 'Magna Carta'.

The Supreme Judicial Council provision was included in the Constitution during BNP founder Ziaur Rahman's military rule.

Former chief justice Haque on Wednesday heavily criticised some of the observations made by Chief Justice S K Sinha in the 16th amendment verdict.

The verdict appeared 'preconceived' to the Law Commission chief. Some of Chief Justice Sinha's comments on MPs were 'irrelevant' and the terms he used were 'immature', he added.

Law Minister Huq on Thursday said the government will move for having 'unacceptable and offensive' statements in the verdict deleted.

Speaking at the press call on the issue, BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul slated former chief justice Khairul Haque also for the verdicts he had delivered.

"The people now understand how much the verdicts he had given as chief justice have damaged Bangladesh's democracy. Political instability and frustration had increased after Justice Haque's verdicts," Mirza Fakhrul said.

The verdicts delivered by Justice Khairul Haque include the one declaring martial laws illegal. He also delivered the judgment repealing the caretaker government system.

Moudud said, "This gentleman has no shame. After delivering the 13th amendment verdict, he said the next two elections could be held under the caretaker government. He gave the full verdict after 16 months, which does not have these words."

"If a chief justice does something unethical like this, I think it should be considered a major crime. It is a judicial crime he has committed," he added.

The Supreme Court lawyer continued: "He (Khairul Haque) said he had excused many things on grounds of necessity. Supreme Judicial Council was one of the things. He repealed the fifth amendment, but why did not he scrap the Supreme Judicial Council?"

Mirza Fakhrul, too, said the annulment of the fifth and 13th constitutional amendments have made the country's democracy 'fragile by creating constitutional and political voids'.

In response to the Awami League's reaction, the BNP secretary general said, "They haven't yet realised that they are being consumed by the monster they had created."

Former law minister Moudud said being law minister, Anisul Huq should not have spoken against verdict; his job is to implement the verdicts..

Moudud thinks the 16th amendment ruling contains 'no irrelevant' remarks. "Because the judiciary is not isolated. It's connected to society, politics, parliament, constitution, state, everything."

He suggested that Anisul Huq file a petition to review the appeals verdict instead of 'scandalising' the Supreme Court.

Moudud, a former minister of military dictator HM Ershad's cabinet, was asked by a journalist about fears that the country is walking towards another military rule after the cancellation of the 16th amendment.

"It's his (Khairul Haque's) wish, not ours. Ask him whether he wants it," Moudud replied.