Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Law Commission chairman resigned for not getting support from government

Justice MA Rashid
BLHouse Report
The Law Commission chairman, Justice MA Rashid, has resigned from his office. He resigned for some differences of opinions, with the law ministry, including over reprint of the Constitution, sources in Law Commission said.

As reason behind his resignation, Justice MA Rashid yesterday told newsman, "I could not work how I wanted for not getting necessary support from the concerned authorities. So, I have resigned."

"I had wanted to make the commission as a strong body, but could not do that," he added expressing frustration.

A highly placed source in the commission told The New Nation, "Justice MA Rashid recently gave an opinion that was against that of others legal experts including the law minister to reprint the constitution first in line with the fifth amendment judgment and then amend".

Difference of the opinion was made at a recent meeting of the special parliamentary committee for constitution review, where they were invited to give their opinions.

When contacted, the commission's sole member Dr M Shah Alam told The New Nation, "Law Commission didn't submit any opinion on the issue. Justice Rashid gave his opinion as he, not the commission as a body, was invited to do so."

Talking to this reporter, Dr M Shah Alam said if the government would request him to provide his opinion on the issue, then he would refer to his article published in the Daily Star on September 16 this year, where he opined to amend first the constitution following SC judgment and then reprint it.

Law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed yesterday told The New Nation, "He (MA Rashid) didn't mention any reason at his resignation letter. You may ask him; very he can tell the reason."

Justice MA Rashid resigned from his office one and a half years before completion of his tenure. He sent his resignation letter to the law minister on October 6.

He was appointed to the office of chairman of the commission on April 21, 2009 for three years. He retired on January 26, 2009 as a judge of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court.

Till filing of the news item yesterday evening, nobody was appointed as chairman or acting chairman of the commission, sources said.

Talking to this reporter, Dr M Shah Alam said, "I am yet to get any formal letter appointing me as acting chairman. Such letter may be served early next week." Dr Alam is a professor of the department of law at Chittagong University.

Sources in the law ministry said, Dr Alam has been appointed acting chairman of the commission until a new chairman was appointed.
Following some other differences of opinion with the law ministry and the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry, distance between the government and the commission was increasing and Justice Rashid was not feeling comfortable, said the sources.

Some quarters of the government were not happy with performance of the commission since Justice Rashid joint his office, sources said.

Justice Rashid told the parliamentary committee meeting that the parliament, and no other authorities, can amend the constitution; so, there was no scope to reprint the constitution in line with the judgment first.

Sources said, the government asked the commission to examine International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973 and to suggest for its necessary amendments.

But, the government become annoyed when Justice Rashid invited a number of senior Supreme Court lawyers, Barrister Abdur Razzaque, who also Jamaat-e-Islami leader,  as experts seeking their opinions on the issue.

The commission has reportedly made a number of recommendations to the government on various issues and laws, but most of them have not been accepted, sources said.

The Law Commission was formed in 1996 aiming to update old and outdated laws and regulations, modernise the judiciary, expedite trial in civil and criminal proceedings, among others, and to provide training for the people involved in the judiciary.

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