Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the Chief Justices of the country have been used as pawns in political games in the past.
Her comment on the turbulent conditions surrounding the judiciary came during the meeting of Awami League’s Central Working Committee and Advisory Council on Saturday at Gonobhaban in Dhaka.
She said: “On one instance, a Chief Justice was outright dismissed from the court through a letter and he knew nothing about it.”
The prime minister continued: “Justices are often dismissed irregularly. Former president Iajuddin Ahmed once invited a Chief Justice over for tea and asked him to resign.”
Referring to the 2001-2006 BNP regime, Hasina said: “The Chief Justice’s age for retirement was once raised from 62 to 65 and then it was taken back to 62 again. The one who just retired was picked as the chief advisor of the caretaker government.
“And that is how BNP conspired to make former Chief Justice KM Hasan the chief advisor of the caretaker government so that he could facilitate their vote rigging.”
The prime minister continued: “Then we formed the grand alliance. Our movement started as they (BNP government) had created fake voter identity cards. Because of all these, state of emergency was declared.
“They thought the election would be held soon, but then attempts were made to grab power illegally.”
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha left for Australia on Friday night, issuing a statement to the press that he was not physically ill, contradicting a government narrative that he took a month-long leave on health grounds.
Before leaving for the airport, Justice Sinha in a statement also said that he was quite embarrassed about how a specific political quarter, including some ministers and the prime minister herself, criticised him over one of his rulings.
He was referring to the verdict that scrapped the 16th constitutional amendment, which had given parliament the power to dismiss judges if allegations of incapability or misconduct levelled against them were found true.
In the statement, the Chief Justice also said: “I strongly believe the prime minister has been misinformed by a certain quarter inside the government which led to her umbrage towards me. I believe she will not hold on to this umbrage for long.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in a statement published on its website on Saturday said that five Appellate Division judges have declared that they cannot continue working with Chief Justice Sinha because of “11 gross allegations including money laundering, financial scam, corruptions, and moral degradation against him.”
The statement, signed by Supreme Court Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam, also said that the written statement that the Chief Justice gave to journalists on Friday night before his departure was confusing and the Supreme Court had issued theirs to clarify the matter.
Regarding the matter, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam later in the evening told reporters: “Considering the facts, Justice Sinha’s return to assume his duties after his leave will derail the judiciary.”
He also said that the chief justice return to office was now a distant fantasy and under the current circumstances, it was highly unlikely that the chief justice can just pick up where he left.
Part of this article was first published on Bangla Tribune