Tuesday, 7 December 2010

SC Judge Recruitment Process: Govt sits on reply to HC

The government is yet to inform the High Court the process of selection of persons for appointment as judges both in the Appellate and HC divisions of the Supreme Court since independence despite an HC directive to do so about five months ago.

Additional Attorney General MK Rahman said yesterday they could not comply with the HC order as they were busy with many urgent cases.

He however told The Daily Star that they would soon respond to the HC rule on the government that contained the directive.

Following a writ petition, the court issued the rule on June 6 giving four weeks to respond to it.
The rule also asked the government to explain within the same period why specific guidelines should not be framed regarding the process of selection for such appointments (of judges in both the divisions of the SC) to bring transparency and competitiveness in it.

Moreover, it ordered the government to explain why the guidelines should not be published in the gazette notification.

SC lawyer Raghib Rauf Chowdhury had filed the writ petition as a public interest litigation praying for framing of specific guidelines about the process of appointment of judges in the highest court.

Barrister Hassan MS Azim, one of the counsels for the petitioner, said they will soon pray to the HC for final hearing of the writ petition.

Contacted, law ministry sources said the government is now following the convention and SC guidelines in respect of appointment of judges of this court.

The government selects persons after consulting the chief justice, and the president then appointments them as judges, the sources mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has been demanding specific rules in this regard since the appointment of 17 additional HC judges on April 11.

SCBA President Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told this correspondent that the government must frame rules providing for appointment of judges in consultation with the chief justice.

The chief justice will discuss with senior judges of the Appellate and High Court divisions, SCBA president, attorney general and vice-chairman of Bangladesh Bar Council before giving his opinion to the president about the selected candidates, he said.

On March 2 last year, the Appellate Division in its judgement in a case (Idrisur Rahman vs Bangladesh Case) said, “In the matter of selection of judges, the opinion of the chief justice should be dominant in the area of legal acumen and suitability for the appointment, and in the area of antecedents the opinion of the executive should be dominant.

“Together, the two should function to find out the most suitable candidates available for appointment through a transparent process of consultation.”

It further said, “There are some universal principles and one of such principles is that in the appointment of judges, judiciary must have the last say and that say can be articulated most efficiently only by the chief justice who is most competent and well equipped and well posted with facts to give his considered opinion.
"While giving such opinion, it is implied that he will discuss with his senior colleagues and other important members of the Bar but the concept of collegium is neither in our Constitution nor it has developed as a convention."

The apex court judgement went on, " If there is really any wisdom in the concept of collegium, that can be provided for only by Constitutional reform and not otherwise. Foreign system can advise but cannot command." View the news item at the man newspaper

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