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11 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 August, 2015 02:56:27 AM
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Contempt rule against Janakahtha

SC verdict Thursday

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court yesterday fixed August 13 for delivering its order in the contempt of court case against the Janakantha editor, Mohammad Atiquallah Khan Masud, and executive editor, Swadesh Roy. The apex court also directed them to be present on August 13. The six-member larger bench of the Appellate Division headed by the Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha fixed the date after the conclusion of hearing. The apex court held that the article not only malign the Chief Justice (CJ), but also destroyed the image and dignity of the entire judiciary.
Five other judges of the bench are: Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Muhammad Imman Ali and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique.
However, another judge of the Appellate Division, Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury, was kept out of the bench as his name was mentioned in the affidavit submitted by the defence counsel, Salauddin Dolon, on behalf of the contemnors.
Earlier on August 9, a four-member bench of the apex court led by the Chief Justice formed a larger bench following a petition by the defence seeking a new bench without the CJ to hear the matter.
On July 29, the apex court in a suo motu move asked Atiquallah Khan and Swadesh Roy to explain why they should not be prosecuted for publishing a contemptuous article headlined Activities of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury family: Escape route narrows on July 16.
Advocate Salauddin Dolon, counsel for Jankantha, told reporters that the article was published based on recorded evidence of audio conversation between the Chief Justice and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury. The CJ admitted that he had the conversations and there was no contempt of court, if the article was published based on true incident.
Attorney General, Mahbubey Alam, prayed for exemplary punishment to be handed out to the accused on the charge of committing contempt by publishing the article and scandalising the image of the highest court and its judges.
When the hearing started, advocate Salauddin Dolon, expressed his dissatisfaction over the exclusion Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury from the larger bench.  The CJ said that as per constitutional provision, it’s his prerogative to form the bench.
"You have mentioned his (AHM Shamsuddin Coudhury) name in your petition as a witness. If his name is mentioned in the defence petition, how the Chief Justice could have kept him on the bench? Hence, we urged the Chief Justice to exclude him from the larger bench," said Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah.
Justice Miah also said that contempt of court is a different issue. After that the court went on a 10-minute break.
The judges returned to the packed courtroom at about 9.35 am and asked the Attorney General to read out the Janakantha article.
At one stage of the hearing, the CJ asked the Attorney General to verify whether there was any substance in the claim made by the Janakantha journalist about him being barred from going abroad by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Attorney General said he talked to the concerned officials in the PMO and denied any such instructions were issued.
After the article was read out, Justice Miah questioned the recording of the conversation between the Chief Justice and another judge of the apex court. “I used to talk to the Chief Justice. Sometimes we were locked in a debate. If I start recording the Chief Justice's conversations, then it would be difficult for him to perform his duty. The situation is dangerous,” added Justice Miah.
Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana said that the article destroyed the image and dignity of the court.
Mentioning the conversation between the CJ and another judge of the Appellate Division, Dolon told the court that it involved the matter of SQ Chowdhury and Moudud Ahmed cases. “Don't try to whip up propaganda against the judiciary,” the CJ warned Dolon. Two lawyers— Nurul Islam Sujon, MP and KM Saifuddin – protested against Dolon’s statement. After that the court went on a break again.  When it reconvened, Dolon sought security. "You will go to your house and come to the court under police protection,” the CJ said.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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