Friday, 22 October 2010

SC compound may be heated

Mohammad Ali

Concerned authorities in the judiciary are waiting anxiously to see as to how Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque deals with the much-debated issue of administering oaths to two 'controversial' judges of the High Court.

To set his mind in this regard, the Chief Justice has already started taking opinions of legal experts and leaders of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

However, sources in the Supreme Court said, the court compound might be heated if oath of the two judges was administered as the SCBA had already declared to wage tough movement against the swearing in.

Earlier, the SCBA, in a resolution, decided to launch movement, including hoisting of black flag in the High Court and boycotting the court, if the controversial judges-- Ruhul Quddus Babu and M Khasruzzaman-- were administered.

President Zillur Rahman on April 11 this year appointed 17 additional judges, including these two judges, to the HC Division of the Supreme Court (SC).

But, the immediate past Chief Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim on April 18 administered oath of 15 judges and declined to sworn in the two judges   citing 'unavoidable circumstances'.

Sources said, the judges' oath was refused following strong protest of the SCBA.

SCBA President Khandker Mahbub Hossain urged CJ Fazlul Karim not to administer the judges' oath alleging that Ruhul Kuddus was the prime accused in a murder case and Khasruzzaman was involved in HC vandalism on November 30 in 2006.

Fazlul Karim went on retirement on the September 29 and the sitting CJ ABM Khairul Haque replaced him on September 30.

After taking office, Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque told media that the CJ is under obligation to administer oath to the two judges since the gazette notification of the judges appointments is in force.

"CJ is not above law as the person is also a product of law," he added.

As part of the consultations to resolve the problem, the Chief Justice talked with SCBA General Secretary Barrister Md Bodruddoza at the CJ chamber on Thursday.

After the meeting, the SCBA secretary told journalists that he, as per the SCBA resolution, gave his opinion not to administer oath to the 'controversial' advocates.

Barrister Bodruddoza said, “I told the CJ that he should follow stance of his predecessor who declined to sworn in the two judges."

"If oath of the controversial advocates is administered, then a series of programmes, including court boycott, agitation and hoisting of black flag, will be executed,” Bodruddoza added.

SCBA President Khandker Mahbub Hossain at the reception of the CJ Khairul Haque on September 30 said, "We believed your Lordship (Khairul Haque) will refuse to administer oath to the two additional judges to whom your predecessor (Fazlul Karim) did not administer oath, to save the highest seat of judiciary clean from any controversial person."

"We believed that your Lordship will resist unlawful pressure of the Executive in this regard," Mahbub Hossain said.

"SCBA will not be a silent spectator, if the Executive imposed illegal pressure on the Judiciary, an independent organ of the country," he said.

"We cannot see any controversial persons in the apex court, the last resort of the citizens, Mahbub Hossain said, hoping that the new CJ would request the President to withdraw the order of appointments of the two judges.

However, at the farewell to the last retired CJ Mohammad Fazlul Karim on September 29, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said, Fazlul Karim clearly violated the Constitution by not administering oath to the recently appointed two High Court judges.

"The government could take constitutional steps against you (Fazlul Karim) in this connection, but didn't do so considering honour and dignity of the CJ office," the AG said.

The Attorney General also said, "You were superseded four times in appointing CJ; President Zillur Rahman honoured you and protected from a tense situation through appointing you CJ this year; you should honour others," Mahbubey said.

Later, the AG told reporters that he delivered such speeches so that no other CJ refuse to administer oath of judges, appointed by the President, in future.

After the farewell, senior lawyer of the SC Barrister Rafique-ul Huq, who attended the farewell, strongly criticised the AG's speeches.

Rafique-ul Huq told reporters, "In my 50 years practice in the court, I didn't observe of giving felicitations to the outgoing CJ in such a manner."

"What the AG told the CJ is shameful for me, country and all," Barrister Huq said, adding that "No gentleman can address the CJ in such a manner how he (AG) did."

About allegation brought against Khasruzzaman of kicking off CJ door in 2006, AG Mahbubey Alam told reporters that the allegation was not right as the photos published in different dailies show Khasruzzaman kicking off of a door made of Thai-glass but the door of CJ's room is not made of Thai-glass, rather wood.

The SCBA President replied to AG's point saying that "Vandalism is vandalism. It is criminal offence irrespective of place of occurrence."

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