POST TIME: 23 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
3 HC judges restrained from judicial duties
SC move follows primary investigation into alleged graft and misconduct by the three judges
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

3 HC judges restrained from judicial duties

The Supreme Court has restrained three judges of the High Court Division from performing their duties. This followed a primary investigation against the judges for alleged corruption and misconduct. The Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain had consulted the President about the investigation and then asked the judges to refrain from conducting judicial activities, SC sources said. The three judges are Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury, Justice Quazi Reza-ul-Hoque and Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque. Their names were not mentioned in the apex court’s cause list yesterday and they also did not attend their respective benches.

A statement by the SC administration said that following a primary investigation, the Supreme Court authorities after consulting with the President informed three honourable judges of the High Court Division about the decision to refrain them from conducting judicial activities. Later, the judges submitted leave applications, said the statement signed by Md. Saifur Rahman, special officer of the Supreme Court.

In 2017, five SC judges had dissented to share the same bench with the then Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha for his reported failure to satisfactorily clarify against 11 allegations of corruption against him. Following this, the former CJ went on leave and finally resigned. At present, the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating a money laundering case filed against SK Sinha and 10 others. Speaking on the action

against the three judges, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters that the Chief Justice had taken the decision after consultations with the President as well as all the Appellate Division judges.

The lawyers had been pleading with the Chief Justice for a long time to free the judiciary from stigma so as to uphold its image and dignity, the AG said. “Now, the Chief Justice will consult the President and then take a decision on how he would initiate the investigation against them.

“The Chief Justice’s decision is a message for those who were not transparent. No one is above the law. Whether it is a minister, judge or common man, no one is above the law,” he added.

The chief law officer refused to divulge details about the investigation. “I think the content of the investigation should not be disclosed to the public at this stage,” he said.

Asked on who will conduct the probe since the Supreme Judicial Council does not exist anymore following the government review petition against the apex court verdict on 16th amendment to the constitution, the AG said the Chief Justice would decide that after consulting the President.

The President and Chief Justice can take the necessary decision to uphold the image and dignity of the judiciary, he explained.

At a press briefing, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) secretary Barrister Mahbub Uddin Kokon, welcomed the Chief Justice’s decision.

He also urged the Chief Justice to initiate investigation against all other judges who were involved in committing gross misconduct.

The SCBA secretary claimed that not only the three justices, but there were also severe allegations against many other judges.

On May 16, the SC’s Appellate Division had expressed concern over an “unprecedented order” issued by a High Court bench relating to a civil case.

A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain expressed the concern while the AG was taking part in a hearing on a civil case between National Bank Limited and others versus MR Trading and others.

The AG raised complaints against an HC bench comprising Justice Salma Masud Chowhdury and Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque for issuing an order to an ‘Artha Rin Adalat’ to issue a decree in line with an HC directive, which the AG termed “illegal and beyond its jurisdiction”.

After raising the allegation, the chief law officer requested the Chief Justice to send the allegations against the HC bench to the President for taking next course of action in accordance with the law.

The HC bench had ordered the ‘Artha Rin Adalat’ to issue a decree as per HC directives in a case filed by the National Bank. The Supreme Court criticised the HC bench for passing such an order.

Besides, there were allegations against Justice Quazi Reza-ul-Hoque of being involved in graft.