SCBA likely to discuss stripping of writ powers today

March 18, 2008
By

[Dhaka Correspondent]

The Supreme Court Bar Association is likely to discuss at a meeting today the latest decision of the chief justice, M Ruhul Amin, on stripping the senior-most High Court judge Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman of his writ powers.

The High Court bench, headed by Justice Nayeem, which has handed down verdicts and orders in a series of high-profile cases in recent times, was stripped of its writ powers on Monday.

Justice Nayeem was also stripped of his powers in 2005.

The jurisdiction over all kinds of writ motions — dealing with new writ petitions and issuing rules asking authorities to explain something — of the bench of Justice Nayeem and Justice Mainul Islam Chowdhury was withdrawn immediately after the bench on June 18, 2005 issued a rule on the then chief election commissioner, Justice MA Aziz, to explain why his simultaneous holding of the office of a judge of the Appellate Division and the office of the chief election commissioner should not be declared illegal and without lawful authority.

Justice Nayeem again got back the writ powers immediately after Justice Ruhul Amin assumed the office of the he chief justice in March 2007.

The bar association earlier adopted a series of resolutions protesting at the ‘arbitrary’ and ‘unreasonable’ reconstitution of the High Court benches by the immediate-past chief justice, Syed JR Mudassir Husain.

An emergency general meeting of the association on June 28, 2005 decided to file a case against the then chief justice, Syed JR Mudassir Husain, for ‘arbitrary’ and ‘unreasonable’ reconstitution of High Court benches.

The meeting also demanded specific rules on the constitution of benches of the Supreme Court on proper consultation with all the judges of the Appellate and High Court divisions and leaders of the bar.

No such case has so far been filed and the Supreme Court has neither framed any such rules nor taken any initiative in this regard.

Mentioning the earlier resolutions, the bar president, M Amirul Islam, told E-Bangladesh on Tuesday, ‘We may discuss the latest change of the jurisdiction of the bench at our meeting on Wednesday as it has disappointed the members of the bar.’

The former chief justice started stripping the benches of their writ powers immediately after issuance of verdicts, rules or orders by them in some sensational cases.

‘Now it has become a continuous process,’ Amirul observed, adding that such a process might raise questions in the minds of the litigants.

The changes in the jurisdiction of the benches came at a time when the bench of Justice Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman and Justice Shahidul Islam was scheduled to hold the final hearing on March 19 in a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Masud Reza Sobhan challenging the validity of not holding national elections in 90 days from the dissolution of the parliament.

Masud told reporters on Tuesday, ‘Maybe the Election Commission knew that the jurisdiction of the bench would be changed and that was why it did not reply to the rule yet.’

A number of sensational cases and a number of rules were also pending with the bench. It issued the rules asking the government to explain legality of detention of some high-profile politicians and businessmen and placing cases under the Emergency Powers Rules on alleged offences committed before the declaration of the emergency.

The bench delivered verdicts on a number of writ appeals filed by the high-profile accused.

The bench passed a verdict declaring illegal the Anti-Corruption Commission’s notification asking the Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, to submit her wealth statement. But the Appellate Division on March 13 rejected the High Court verdict and upheld the commission’s notification.

The bench also gave a verdict quashing the trial in businessman Azam Jahangir Chowdhury’s case against filed Hasina under the Emergency Powers Rules.

In another recent verdict, the bench ruled illegal the appointment of Kazi Habibul Awal as the law secretary. The bench observed, ‘According to the constitution, the chief justice’s opinion is not the opinion of the Supreme Court.’

The bench also granted bail to former prime minister Khaleda Zia in the GATCO corruption case.

The bench also declared illegal the detention of a number of high-profile politicians, placed on preventive detention by the present interim government under the emergency. All the verdicts, however, have been stayed by the Appellate Division.

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