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Dhaka Tribune

Parliament turbulent over High Court verdict scrapping 16th amendment

Update : 05 May 2016, 10:01 PM
Parliament turned turbulent on Thursday over the High Court's verdict canceling the 16th amendment to the constitution that empowered parliament to impeach judges. At the beginning of the session, lawmakers from the ruling party, the main opposition Jatiya Party (JaPa) and JaSad criticised the court verdict and said it was a bad example for the court to scrap any law that was passed by the parliament. In the afternoon, MPs raised a din when Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq was called upon by the speaker to table the Supreme Court Judges (Remuneration and Privileges) bill, which aims to raise remunerations for Supreme Court judges. Many MPs insisted that the bill be withheld until the High Court's verdict is overturned. Anisul placed the bill amid the chaos, saying Parliament should not be inconsiderate “just because the judges had been inconsiderate.” JaPa lawmakers led by opposition leader Rawshan Ershad walked out in protest. Parliament session started on Thursday with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair. At the beginning of the session, JaPa MP Fakhrul Imam in a point of order raised the issue of High Court's scrapping the 16th amendment to the Constitution that empowered the Parliament to remove Supreme Court judges for incapacity or misconduct. JaPa MP Kazi Firoz Rashid and JaSad MP Moinuddin Khan Badal also made statements and demanded that the law minister speak on this issue. Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government would soon file a petition with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict. “They [the court] termed it [the 16th amendment] illegal, but it is not illegal at all… it [the judgment] is not maintainable,” Anisul said. “As we believe in the freedom of the judiciary, we will follow the legal process and lodge appeal with the Appellate Division. No conspiracy against democracy will be tolerated.” The minister said nobody had opposed the 16th amendment to the Constitution when it was passed in Parliament in September 2014. The amendment was made to ensure the dignity of the judges and freedom of the judiciary, he said. Fakhrul Imam said the judiciary cannot play games with the laws passed by lawmakers. “The court declares one law after another to be ultra-violation [sic]. If so, do we enact illegal laws?” he said. Mainuddin Khan Badal said the provision the 16th amendment articulated in the Constitution was originally a part of the 1972 Constitution. “If so, how can you the Chief Justice say the amendment is illegal?” he said. Ruling party MP Fazlul Karim Selim said everyone should be held accountable. “If judges do any offence, they should be brought to book. If the parliament can try the president, why should the judges be exempt?” “If the parliament does not pass the bill on increasing judges remuneration, what would they do?” Selim said. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed asked Law Minister Anisul Huq to take realistic steps against the High Court’s judgment. Noting that the Parliament has sovereign and supreme power, he said, “If the laws passed in Parliament are scrapped by the court, where does the sovereignty of Parliament stand?”
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