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Appointment of Justice Shamsuddin Manik: A controversial decision of Acting President

Written By: AEH_MIZ
09/04/2013 21:01 09/04/2013 20:08

[ The following article is the translation of  a part of this write-up

written by the journalist Mr. Mizanur Rahman Khan. ]


A judge, previously blamed by the national parliament for his serious misconduct, has got appointment in the appellate division of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the country.This incident soiled comparatively unbiased image of the senior politician Abdul Hamid. It happened at such a time when crisis in Bangladesh’s politics is worsening and there is a probability of forming an election-time government, acceptable to all parties, centering Mr. Abdul Hamid. Even at the present time, he may be the next president of Bangladesh. He has a reputation for his expertise in law, in parliament & constitution and as a considerate man full of sense of humor. So an enquiry was made to see how he took such decision. Its primary result was both surprising and grievous. It demonstrates how much the state machineries are becoming despicable and insignificant. It seems to be used to fulfill someone’s vagary. The law has lost its control over that vagary.

A lot of debate and mishap have already happened centering the judge A.H.M Shamsuddin Chowdhury. Consistently, his promotion, instead of removal, is a rare case. The case of the transport building was not very simple. On May 29 of the last year regarding this case, the speaker Abdul Hamid made a little incautious comment in the parliament indicating the stiff position of the court. Mr. Chowdhury called this comment as ‘equivalent to treason’. He was being discussed even before this incident. He was congratulated by giving judgments in some remarkable cases.  The credit of the cases of the 7th amendment of the constitution, the murder of Colonel Taher goes to him. But at the same time, he was being disputed for his judicial intemperance. The speaker was insulted inconceivably and this was the continuity of the misdeeds done by Mr. Chowdhury. The parliament burst into rage. Since the sufferers stayed silent being afraid of contempt of the court, their wounds were healed for the cause of parliamentary actions.

That judge commented, ‘the speakers comment is not only ignorance, but also unforgiving.’ Following this statement, on June 5 in the parliament Sheikh Selim commented that the comment of Mr. Chowdhury is an attack on the parliament. He should beg pardon. Rashed Khan Menon said, ‘We cannot tolerate such misconduct.’ Three days’ ultimatum was given by Suranjit Sen Gupta. He told that he who violates the constitution, should not hold the chair. Since Mr. Chowdhury has violated the constitution, he is not supposed to hold the chair anymore. Mr. Suranjit Sen Gupta has a sharp sense of humor. He may likely say now, ‘I told that he should not stay in the high court anymore. I did not tell that he cannot go to the appellate division!’ In the interview published in yesterday’s Prothom Alo, Mr. Abdul Matin Khasru made a ‘yes boss’ type comment to make someone happy. He defended Mr. Abdul Hamid saying that he is now the president, not that speaker!

The code of conduct, amended when Mr. Abdul Matin Khasru was the law minister, says, ‘A judge must be attentive to establish and to maintain a high standard of behavior. He also must maintain it personally so that the sacredness of the freedom of the judiciary is maintained. While acting as a judge, he must be determined to show patience, judiciousness, respect and courtesy to those who are seeking justice, to the lawyers and to others.’ 

Yet the accusations against that judge indicate that the code of conduct has been kneaded. The late president Md. Zillur Rahman gave consent to an enquiry application of the removal of Mr. Chowdhury according to the prayer of a lawyer, insulted in the open court. Another lawyer filed a complaint of misconduct to the then chief justice. Showing courtesy, the chief justice himself begged pardon for the misconduct of justice Chowdhury.

Mr. Tofayel Ahmed said, ‘Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury is a sadist. He likes to insult people. We hate who are sadists, who rejoice distressing others. For not saluting him, he compelled a traffic police to pull ears in public. In spite of buying an economy class ticket, he demanded a business class seat. He should be ashamed.’ Who should be ashamed now? Would Mr. Ahmed like to answer?

We, probably, were able to call Mr. Ershad, the dictator, shameless to the core because of his military background. Still we call him that. But, can we call an incognito elected dictator so?

Mr. Mujibul Hoque of the National Party said, ‘This judge became a justice without written test by the grace of the Awami league government. He insults respectable persons by making them waiting for hours in his court. The judiciary should ask for pardon for insulting the speaker.’ We want statement from those eloquent parliamentarians in the upcoming session of the parliament.

On June 18, the speaker Mr. Abdul Hamid in his ruling said, ‘The honorable judge (Justice Chowdhury) had made some accusations and unexpected comments against me and the national parliament. To protect the sovereignty of the parliament regarding this issue, the senior parliamentarians delivered speeches demanding action against that honorable judge as well as his removal. All the present members supported the statement.’

This disputed judge might have been considered removed, if the constitution of 1972 had been intact, if Sheikh Hasina had not given legitimacy to the military decree of Ziaur Rahman.  Because, there was a need for two-third votes to impeach a judge and at present, the ruling Awami League has three-fourth majority.

Mr. Hamid in his ruling said, ‘This parliament elects the president. The president appoints the prime minister and the chief justice. In this way, the sovereignty of the people gets established.’ Now the question arises, whose sovereignty he has established over the parliament and the Supreme Court through this appointment?  The real answer is, the sovereignty of someone’s vagary has been established.

The speaker even expected that this argument will come to an end through his ruling. But those concerned were not satisfied. That’s why its legitimacy was challenged. Surprisingly, Justice Hasan Foyez Siddique pronounced a judgment declaring that ruling unconstitutional and null & void. The acting president also promoted him to the appellate division along with justice Chowdhury superseding 37 judges. This judge acted as an additional attorney general during the emergency of 1/11.

Justice A.H.M Shamsuddin Chowdhury made a mockery of wisdom, merit, competency and academic qualification of the speaker as a lawyer. The speaker answered, ‘This is some discourteous comments about the parliament and a personal attack.’ He marked his behavior as uncivilized. The speaker, indirectly, brought a specific charge of violating the code of conduct compiled under article no. 96 of the constitution, though he moved away from his claim of forming a supreme judicial council with a proposal to remove. The purpose was only to transfer the liability to the chief justice being appropriate authority. 

That code of conduct of the year of 2000 says, a judge must not participate in public debate. He will not reveal his political outlook in public. He will not participate in any conversation with media. He will not get involved in any sort of political activities either at home or abroad. There are charges of violating these codes of conduct against Justice Chowdhury. There is a charge against him of getting involved in a dispute regarding the committee of a pro-Awami League lawyers’ organization in London. Sitting in the Bangladeshi court, with our utmost surprise, he also issued rule on his personal opponent living in the British land for contempt of the court. Even the Bangladesh High Commission in London was ordered to publish news regarding this rule in the newspapers of London. Moreover, he is accused of revealing his personal political viewpoint at some meeting in London.

Mr. Hamid in his ruling given on June 18 said, ‘We will support the action considered and taken by the honorable chief justice regarding such misconduct of the court. Consequently, the repetition of such matters may be resisted.’ Now, someone may doubt that in present situation.

Abdul Hamid has already made us tensed that he may follow the footsteps of his predecessor if he becomes the president. May be, he will prove his loyalty signing files blindly, too.
We talked to a responsible source of Bongobhaban (president’s house) to know how the acting president has taken two such disputed decisions.
Prothom Alo: Where were the files signed? How?
Officer of Bongobhaban: No file came to bongobhaban. That was signed at the parliament building in the evening. The acting law secretary brought the file of the judges. It happened from hand to hand.
Prothom Alo: What? Then you have no record at bongobhaban?
Officer: Yes, we have. On the last Monday, a photocopy was sent from the ministry of Law
Prothom Alo: What is the rule of getting sign?
Officer: After the signature of the prime minister, her secretary sends file to the secretary of bongobhaban. Then the secretary writes note on it. Next, the personal secretary places the file before the president. In this case, the rule has been violated. We have been surprised since the law secretary is not supposed to go to the president directly.

What lesson will be learnt from the above discussion? Like the hero Alexander said, ‘Really Seleucus, what a strange country it is!’             



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Law and order president judiciary shamsuddin chowdhury hasan foyez siddique law minister health minister 


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