Saturday, 1 October 2011

Code of Conduct for the Judges

The Supreme Judicial Council headed by their Lordship the Chief Justice of Bangladesh Mr. Justice Latifur Rahman along with two senior most Judge of the Appellate Division Mr Justice Bimendu Bikash Roy Chowdhury (B.B Roy Chowdhury) and Mr. Justice AM Mahmudur Rahman formulated the current prevailing Code of Conduct of the Judges which was published on 7th day of May, 2000. The full text of the Code of Conduct is reproduced below; 

Supreme Judicial Council 
Code of Conduct
In exercise of power under Article 96(4)(a) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, The Supreme Judicial Council prescribes the following Code of Conduct.
This code of conduct applies to all the Judges of the Appellate Division and the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
The oath of office under Article 148 of the Constitution prescribed in Third Schedule, both for the Chief Justice and other Judges implies complete submission to the Constitution and under the Constitution to the law. Subject to these governing obligations under the Constitution, the function of interpretation and application of the Constitution and the law is to be discharged by all the Judges of the Supreme Court for the maintenance of the Rule of Law over the whole range of human activities within the nation.
1. A Judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
An independent judiciary is indispensable to the justice system in Bangladesh. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.
2. A Judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.
A. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A Judge should not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should not lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permits others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.
C.    A Judge should not hold membership in any organisation that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, cast, religion, or place of birth.
3. A Judge should perform the duties of the office impartially and diligently.
The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all other activities. In performing the duties prescribed by law, the judge should adhere to the following standards:
(1)    A judge should be faithful to and maintain professional competence in the law, and should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.
(2)    A judge should hear and decide matters assigned, unless disqualified, and should maintain order and decorum in all judicial proceedings.
(3)    A judge should be patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous to litigants, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and should require similar conduct of those officers to the judge's control, including lawyers to the extent consistent with their role in adversarial system.
(4) A judge should accord to every person who is legally interested in  a proceedings, or the person's lawyer, full right to be heard according to law, and, except as authorised by law, neither initiate nor consider exparte communications on the merits, or procedures affecting the merits, of a pending or impending  proceedings.
(5)    A judge should dispose promptly the business of the court including avoiding inordinate delay in delivering judgments/orders.
(6)    A judge should avoid public comment on the merits of a pending or impending Court case.
General disqualifications to hear a matter:
(a) The judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) The judge shall disqualify to hear a matter/cause where he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association and a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawer has been a material witness.
(c)    The judge knows that, individually or as a fiduciary, the judge or the judge's spouse or minor child residing in the judge's household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding.
(d) The judge or the judge's spouse, or a person related either to the Judge or there spouse:
(i)    Is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
(ii) Is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
(iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding; or
(iv) Is to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding;
(e) the judge has served in government employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, advisor, or material witness concerning the proceeding has expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.
4. A judge may engage in extra-judicial activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
A judge, subject to the proper performance of judicial duties, may engage in the following law-related activates, if in doing so the judge does not cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before the judge.
A. A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
B. A judge may appear at a public hearing before, or otherwise consult with, an executive or legislative body or official on matters concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice to the extent that it would generally be perceived that a judge's judicial experience provides special expertise in the area.
C.    A judge may serve as a member, officer, or director of an organisation or government agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.

5. A judge should practice  a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office.
6. A judge must not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination before him.
7. A judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves. He will not give interviews to the media.
8.  A judge will not accept gifts or hospitality except from his family, close relatives and friends.
9. A judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business, either by himself or in association with any other person. (Publication of legal treatise or any activity in the nature of a hobby will not be construed as trade or business).
10. A judge should not ask for, accept contributions or otherwise actively associate himself with the raising of any fund.
11. Every judge must at all times be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should  be no act or omission by  him which is unbecoming of his office.
12. In the event of any embarrassment to hear a case by a judge, he shall inform the Chief Justice of such embarrassment so that the Chief Justice can take appropriate steps.
13. A judge should not engage in any political activities, whatsoever in the country and abroad.
14. A judge shall disclose his assets and liabilities if, asked for, by the Chief  Justice.
The 14 point Code stipulates that any act of a judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility and independence has to be avoided. The Code of Conduct is only restatement of values of judicial life and is not meant to be exhaustive  but illustrative of what is expected of a Judge.
The earlier Code of Conduct is hereby rescinded.
The Code of Conduct will be effective from the 7th day May, 2000.

(Source: The Judge -- compiled by Mr. Justice A.F.M. Abdur Rahman)

The New Nation 


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