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Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Bhadra 25, 1421, Zilqad 13, 1435 Hijr

Bill For Judge Impeachment   
Legal experts urge govt to reconsider move
Pulack Ghatack
Publish Date : 2014-09-09,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 23
The government move to amend the Constitution for restoring the authority of Parliament (Jatiya Sangsad) to impeach the Supreme Court judges has generated mixed reactions among legal experts and professionals.
A number of them, however, urged the government to reconsider the move, arguing that this would do harm to independence of the judiciary and help implement its political desire.
"The Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Bill, 2014" was placed in the Parliament on Sunday with a proposal for amending the procedure in the existing Constitution for impeachment of the SC judges.
Once the bill is passed, the party, that assumes power with two-third majority in Parliament, will get an absolute authority to rule the apex court by exercising the power to impeach an SC judge, they observed.
But it will be almost impossible to remove an SC judge from services despite his gross misconduct, if the ruling party does not have that majority in Parliament.
Noted jurists of the country including former Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Dr Kamal Hossain, Barrister M Amirul Islam, Mahmudul Islam and Rokanuddin Mahmud have denounced the move to amend the Constitution for this purpose.
Some of the pro-government lawyers supported the move and said that Parliament represents the will of the people. As per the Constitution, all powers belong to the people. Therefore, Parliament is the right forum to look after such issues, they observed.
The pro-opposition lawyers are threatening to launch a countrywide movement against the government's initiative.
"The provision of the impeachment may become dysfunctional due to lack of two-third majority of any single party in Parliament while the parliamentarians may frequently undermine the judiciary on their personal or political bias against any judge, eminent jurist Barrister Shafique Ahmed told The Daily Observer.
As for alternative, he said the Parliament's power to remove a judge can be restored keeping the existing provision of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) or by slightly amending it.
He suggested that a high- powered committee comprising Supreme Court judges, be it either the SJC or a five-member judges' committee of the senior Appellate Division judges and retired justices, should investigate allegations brought against a judge.
"If the allegations against a judge proved true, then Parliament can impeach a judge with a simple majority," Barriser Shafique suggested.
Only judges can properly determine "incapacity," or "incompetence," of a judge. A doctor can determine capacity or incapacity, competency or incompetency of a physician. It would not be proper to give the responsibility of investigation to a committee of Parliament members.
He said, "A judge must be given the right to defend before any action against him." "The existing provision of SJC is not bad. It covers many things," he said responding to a question.
Lawyer Monjil Morshed also expressed doubt over the proposal to restore Parliament's authority to impeach judges.
"Two-third majority of a party is rare. It will be difficult to remove a judge in absence of two- third majority of a party in Parliament," Monjil Morshed said.
He said the judges of the SC may come under indecent criticisms in Parliament on political bias and personal likes or dislikes of a parliamentarian now and then.
Monjil Morshed said that empowering Parliament to impeach Supreme Court judges does not fit for Bangladesh like democracy. It may be good for US and European Countries.
He said the Supreme Court retained the Supreme Judicial Council in its judgment voiding the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. "Parliament cannot pass any law to scrap any verdict of the Supreme Court," he said.

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