Ruling Awami League and its political allies have said that the statement made by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha before his departure for Australia on Friday is part of a conspiracy against the present government.
The party leaders also hinted that the government is going to take stern action against the chief justice which could include removing him from his post permanently.
Several Awami League Central Committee members and leaders from the Awami League-led 14-party alliance told the Dhaka Tribune that before leaving for Australia, the chief justice gave a written statement to journalists in order to serve vested interests and as part of a bigger conspiracy against the present government and the court.
Awami League leaders also expressed fears that BNP and others political parties may try to use Surendra Kumar Sinha’s statement for their own gain and to create unrest in the country.
As part of the action against Sinha, the present government has begun leveling corruption charges against the chief justice. As of Saturday afternoon, there has been talk of 11 charges of irregularities against Justice Sinha about which AL leaders claim to have proof.
Meanwhile, five judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) have refused to sit with Chief Justice Sinha on the bench following the allegations, said SC Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam.
Earlier, in a meeting with the justices, President Abdul Hamid handed over documents related to the allegations against Sinha to the judges, said Islam in a statement.
A presidium member of Awami League, asking not to be named, told the Dhaka Tribune that the chief justice made his observation on the 16th amendment as part of a conspiracy against the Awami League-led government. He added that the chief justice delivered the statement to provide further opportunities to BNP and anti-Bangladesh stakeholders.
The presidium member also hinted that party leaders will try to convince party chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take strict action against Sinha in the party’s Working Committee meeting on Saturday evening.
Awami League Presidium member Abdur Razzak said: “Surendra Kumar Sinha contradicted his own previous statements through his latest written statement that read that he is not sick.”
He also expressed fears that Sinha’s statement may cause unrest and instability in the country.
However, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader refused to comment on the issue and said that Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha’s much-talked-about vacation plea and statement to the media was discussed in the party’s Working Committee meeting.
At a program in the Dhaka, he said: “After the Working Committee meeting, we will inform you about our stance on the chief justice’s leave application and his statement.”
Two organising secretaries and two joint-general secretaries of Awami League also confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune that they will take tough action against Sinha for his conspiracy theories.
Commenting on the matter, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul Alam Hanif said: “Sinha has made his statement for his own ill motives and conspiracies against government.”
He also voiced suspicions that some quarters had influenced the chief justice’s statement and said Awami League would identify them for the sake of the country.
Claiming that Surendra Kumar Sinha worked for BNP, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said: “BNP is trying to confuse the people as part of their conspiracy after misquoting the chief justice’s statements.”
He also said: “BNP does not have the guts to participate in the next election. So, BNP is trying to plot conspiracies in order to foil it.”
Awami Ainjibi Parishad General Secretary Advocate Abdullah Abu said: “Actually, Surendra Kumar Sinha has made contradictory statements from time to time, so it is very difficult to understand his situation. But it is quite sure that he made the statements to embarrass the government and court.”
“Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha was adamant to show that the judiciary is controversial, which is very disappointing for the lawyers,” he added.
Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir claimed the chief justice’s statement proved allegations from BNP that Sinha was forced to go on leave.
“We have been convinced by the CJ's statement broadcasted on televisions and published in newspapers that what BNP, lawyers and Supreme Court Bar Association had been saying about the chief justice's going on leave and foreign visit were all true,” he said.
Furthermore, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claimed that sending the chief justice on leave was part a plan by the Awami League-led government to destroy the judiciary.
It is no be noted that Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha gave a written statement to the media at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, while he was leaving Dhaka for Australia.
The judge also expressed his concern about the government overreach on the Supreme Court’s business.
Sinha claimed that he was not physically ill, completely contradicting a government narrative that he took a month-long leave on grounds of ill health.
Surendra said: “The prime minister is upset with me, after a certain quarter inside the government gave her a false representation of my verdict. I am optimistic that this misunderstanding will soon be resolved.”
Sinha’s official statement, typed on the chief justice’s official pad, which reads: “…I strongly believe the prime minister has been misinformed by a certain quarter inside the government which led to her umbrage towards me. I am certain she [Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina] will not hold on to this [umbrage].”
“…I am a little disturbed too,” the statement reads. “The law minister [Anisul Huq] on Thursday quoted the acting chief justice, also the eldest member of the current Appellate Division, saying that the latter would bring necessary changes to the Supreme Court administration soon. There is no precedence of an acting chief justice or the government interfering in a sitting chief justice’s administration. The acting chief judge is supposed to carry out daily routine tasks.
“An easy assumption can be drawn from this instance that the government is impinging on the apex court’s business and this might worsen an already deteriorated relationship between the government and the judiciary. This will not benefit the country.”