Law Minister Anisul Huq on Thursday said that the government would provide all necessary support to the newly appointed acting chief justice, Md Abdul Wahhab Miah.
The law minister and judges of the Appellate Division held a courtesy meeting with Justice Wahhab on Thursday.
There was widespread assumption among certain quarters that Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha had been forcibly sent on leave following a rift between the judiciary and the executive as the former cancelled the 16th amendment to the constitution.
Chief Justice Sinha went on a one-month leave on health grounds on Tuesday.
Emerging from the meeting, Anisul Huq, however, told reporters that the meeting with Justice Wahhab Miah was a courtesy call.
As the Law Ministry acts like a bridge between the two organs of the state, he said he had made similar calls on two former chief justices when they assumed office during his tenure as the law minister.
BNP’s attempts to meet CJ
Leaders of the BNP and lawyers loyal to it keep insisting that Chief Justice Sinha is not ill as the government claims; rather, he has been forcibly kept out of office.
The government exerted immense pressure on him so that he goes on leave, they alleged, adding that he has been confined to his official residence.
President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Zainul Abedin, together with some other lawyers, on Thursday pleaded to a five-member Appellate Division bench, led by acting chief justice Wahhab Miah, to inquire after Sinha’s health.
In the written petition, the pro-BNP lawyers told the bench that they were fretting over the chief justice’s physical conditions and wanted to pay a call on him on Sunday, but they could not meet him as they were denied access to his residence.
“We do not know where he is staying now,” said Zainul, also a vice-chairman of BNP.
While hearing the petition, Justice Wahhab Miah said he was certain that Chief Justice Sinha was at his residence.
Whom the chief justice will meet is up to him. That is not any of the court’s concern, Justice Wahhab said.
The bench also said they learned that the chief justice was unable to discharge duties due to his illness and therefore went on leave.
As the BNP leaders still insisted on meeting Sinha and knowing his whereabouts, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam poured scorn on them, saying: “The court has explicitly said the chief justice is at his residence. There should be no questions left in this connection.”
Mahbubey said: “Some lawyers asked the whereabouts of the chief justice and appealed to the Appellate Division to pass an order paving the way for them to meet him. But, the court has categorically said that it has no authority to issue any rulings in this regard.”
They could have informed the matter to the acting chief justice at his office instead of moving an open court, he added.
There are media reports that Sinha would likely to pay a visit to Australia while on leave.
Asked if Sinha would travel abroad, Mahbubey said the chief justice visited Australia and Canada several times, as one of his daughters lives in Canada and another in Australia. It is up to him whether he will travel abroad or not, he added.
AL wants CJ to retire with dignity
The ruling Awami League said they hope Sinha would retire with his dignity as the chief justice unaffected.
Earlier, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim, also the spokesman of the Awami League-led 14-party alliance, alleged that Sinha repeatedly tried to make the post of chief justice controversial despite being in a highly esteemed position.
Anisul meets CJ Sinha
Following the courtesy meeting with Justice Wahhab, Law Minister Anisul Huq paid a call on the chief justice at the latter’s residence in the evening.
Anisul initially declined to talk to reporters waiting outside.
He later told the Dhaka Tribune: “We inquired after his [Sinha’s] health. He was having a rest at the time. I wished him speedy recovery.”
In reply to a question about Sinha’s decision to go abroad for medical checkups, Anisul replied that he had not talked about this.
Asked whether the chief justice heard of the BNP’s claims that he was forcibly sent on leave, the law minister said: “I did not discuss this with him. I asked about his health conditions, not about the rumors they [BNP] have been spreading.”
Slamming the BNP leaders, he accused them of spreading lies and cooked up stories involving Sinha.
“Their [BNP leaders’] behaviour is inhuman. They do not have the slightest modicum of respect for the chief justice,” Anisul said.
The chief justice later visited Dhakeswari National Temple with his wife.