Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha goes on a month's leave from today on health grounds.
“The chief justice will go on a month's leave from tomorrow [Tuesday] on health grounds… the chief justice usually approves his own leave and the ministry received a letter in this regard today [Monday],” Law Minister Anisul Huq told The Daily Star yesterday afternoon.
Mohammad Anisur Rahman, personal secretary to the CJ, said Justice Sinha has sent a letter to the president, seeking one month's leave from today due to physical ailments.
“He needs rest due to his physical condition,” Anisur said, but declined to elaborate on the CJ's health.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam also confirmed that the letter has been sent.
Asked if there was any pressure on the CJ to go on leave, he said, “There is no question of putting pressure on him.”
Meanwhile, the law ministry last night published a gazette, appointing Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, the senior most judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, as the acting CJ, reports private TV station Channel 24.
Justice Sinha recently faced sharp criticism from some senior ministers and Awami League leaders over the 16th amendment verdict. Some of them even demanded his resignation accusing him of undermining parliament and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Talking to this newspaper, Law Secretary ASSM Zahirul Haque Dulal said the CJ's letter would be sent to the president through the Prime Minister's Office for his approval.
“The chief justice will go on a month's leave from tomorrow [Tuesday] on health grounds… the chief justice usually approves his own leave and the ministry received a letter in this regard today
The senior most judge of the Appellate Division of the SC would carry out the CJ's duties during Justice Sinha's absence, added the secretary.
Justice Wahhab Miah had discharged the CJ's duties when Justice Sinha was on leave from September 8-23.
The CJ returned home on September 23 after visiting Canada and Japan. On Saturday, he attended a reception, hosted by President Abdul Hamid, at the Bangabhaban on the occasion of Durga Puja.
The SC will reopen today after a 39-day annual vacation.
Justice Sinha was appointed the 21st chief justice of the country in January 2015. He is scheduled to go into retirement on January 31 next year, said SC sources.
The apex court on August 1 released the full text of its verdict in the 16th amendment case, scrapping the constitutional amendment that had empowered parliament to remove SC judges for misconduct or incapacity.
Following the verdict, the prime minister and senior ministers came down heavily on the CJ, with many of them calling for his resignation.
Some pro-AL organisations, including Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibi Parishad, held protest programmes against the CJ. Parishad leaders threatened to launch a tougher agitation if the CJ didn't step down.
The Jatiya Sangsad on September 13 passed a resolution calling for legal steps to nullify the SC verdict. The law minister on several occasions said the government would seek review of the judgment.
The JS had passed the 16th amendment in September 2014. The amendment was challenged at the High Court. The HC in May last year declared the amendment unconstitutional and void.
The government filed an appeal with the SC, challenging the HC verdict. The apex court on July 3 rejected the appeal and upheld the HC verdict.
In its full verdict, the SC made some observations, which were critical of the country's present political culture.
Several senior ministers and AL leaders claimed the observations were “objectionable, unconstitutional and irrelevant.”
SCBA LEADERS FAIL TO MEET CJ
A delegation of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), led by its President Zainul Abedin and Secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon, went to the CJ's residence in the capital yesterday afternoon, but could not meet him.
“We found it [leave of the chief justice] mysterious. So we went to his residence, but couldn't meet him,” Zainul told The Daily Star last night.
The SCBA, dominated by pro-BNP lawyers, will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the issue, he said.
Journalists present there said SCBA leaders waited at the main entrance to the CJ's house for around 20 minutes, but were not allowed in.