POST TIME: 12 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 December, 2016 01:23:58 AM
judges’ code of conduct
No gazette notice needed: President
No interference in judiciary, says Law minister

No gazette notice 
needed: President

A circular by the law ministry yesterday clarified that a gazette notification was not required on the code of conduct and disciplinary rules for trial court judges, as proposed by the Supreme Court. The circular said that on being directed by the President, it was stated that the honourable President willingly gave a decision that there was no need to issue a Bangladesh gazette notification relating to the drafted disciplinary rules for the Judicial Officers Conduct Rules, 2007, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s proposal. The circular, signed by senior assistant secretary Mostaque Ahmed, was sent to the Supreme Court and other officials concerned.
The circular came two days after the apex court ordered two secretaries of the law ministry to appear before it on December 12. They were summoned to show cause for not complying with the SC’s order about finalising the rules determining the code of conduct and discipline rules of lower court judges.
After reprimanding attorney general (AG) Mahbubey Alam for the government’s failure to issue a gazette notification on the discipline and appeal rules for trial court judges, the full eight-member bench of the Appellate Division had come up with the order on December 9 during a hearing on the Masdar Hossain case, known as the judiciary separation case.
“We’re not passing a written order. We’re giving a verbal order that you’ll ensure the presence of the two secretaries before the court on December 12 with a copy of disciplinary rules issued by a gazette notification, if possible,” Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha told the AG.
As per the apex court order, two secretaries—ASSM Zahirul Haque and Md Shahidul Haque—might appear at the SC today along with the President’s order.
In December 1999, the SC—in a landmark verdict in the Masdar Hossain case—issued a 12-point set of directives to the government, which included framing of discipline and appeal rules and code of conduct for the trial court judges.
On May 7, the government had submitted a draft discipline and appeal rules and code of conduct of the trial court judges to the top court. The SC amended the draft prepared by the law ministry and asked it to issue a gazette notification by November 6 after incorporating the amendments.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday asserted that the government did not interfere in judicial matters.
The minister made this oblique remark a day after Chief Justice SK Sinha urged the government on Saturday to immediately amend Articles 116 and 116A of the Constitution as these, according to him, posed problems before the judiciary in establishing the rule of law.
He said Articles 116 and 116A were “contrary to the principles” of the original constitution adopted in 1972.
The present Article 116 says, “The control (including the power of posting, promotion and grant of leave) and discipline of persons employed in the judicial service and magistrates exercising judicial functions shall vest in the President and shall be exercised in consultation with the Supreme Court.”
The original Article 116 adopted in 1972 said, “The control (including the power of posting, promotion and grant of leave) and discipline of persons employed in the judicial service and magistrates exercising judicial functions shall vest in the Supreme Court.”
The Article 116A, which was inserted by the fourth amendment to the constitution in 1975, says, “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, all persons employed in the judicial service and all magistrates shall be independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.”
The Chief Justice described the two Articles as “unconstitutional” and called on lawmakers to immediately reinstate the provisions stipulated in the original constitution.
Anisul Huq, however, did not comment on the Chief Justice’s speech, saying he has not gone through CJ Sinha’s full statement yet.
He said the government was carrying out its duties as per Article 22 and 122 of the Constitution and was working to ensure justice.
In response to another query, the minister said those involved in the Nasirnagar and Gobindaganj incidents would be identified and brought to book. “We will make an instance so that no one will dare repeat such an offence in the future,” he warned.
The minister also said work was on to prepare a draft law to confiscate the properties of convicted war criminals.
He also defended keeping a provision in the draft law passed by the Cabinet recently for special circumstances in which girls below 18 could marry, Huq said, "What will happen if such circumstances arise with no provision to tackle them? We have to consider all possible scenarios."
The law minister made the comments when reporters sought his reaction to the Chief Justice’s remarks once he emerged from a programme at the Bangla Academy.
The programme, organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation, gave away awards to 10 human rights activists. The function was held to mark the World Human Rights Day.
Presided over by foundation chairman Syed Manzur Elahi, the function was addressed by its executive director, Shahin Anam, Shishu Academy chairman Selina Hossain, and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) executive director Sultana Kamal.