CJ at home, taking rest
Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday assured acting chief justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah of the government's full cooperation.
“I earlier paid courtesy calls on two chief justices after they had taken the charge. At that time I told them the law ministry is a bridge between the executive and the judiciary. I've said similar things today also. There will be no lack of cooperation from the government,” he said.
The minister was talking to journalists after meeting Justice Wahhab Miah at his Supreme Court office.
Anisul later visited Chief Justice SK Sinha, who went on a month's leave on Tuesday on health grounds, at his residence.
Talking to this correspondent over phone in the afternoon, the law minister said the CJ was taking rest. “I spoke to him.”
Asked whether Justice Sinha was going abroad, he said he did not discuss the issue with the CJ.
Earlier, the law minister had said the CJ went on leave for treatment as he had cancer.
CJ AT DHAKESHWARI TEMPLE
The CJ visited the Dhakeshwari Temple in the capital yesterday evening to participate in Laxmi Puja, said Rana Dashgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad.
“Justice Sinha along with his wife went to the temple around 6:10pm and exchanged greetings with devotees after offering puja,” he told The Daily Star.
The CJ stayed at the VIP room of the temple for around 15 minutes, Rana Dashgupta said, adding that he was looking “quite healthy and sound”.
Two members of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad said the CJ stayed at the temple for over half an hour.
In the morning, a group of SC lawyers, led by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Zainul Abedin, went to the acting CJ's court and sought its interference so that an SCBA delegation could meet Justice Sinha.
Zainul said they went to the CJ's residence around 5:30pm on Monday, but were not allowed in.
“Since we've heard he [chief justice] is sick, we thought we should meet him on behalf of Supreme Court Bar Association. But the law enforcement agencies are not allowing us to visit him. You're the guardian of the constitution and that's why we need a proper step from you,” he said.
In reply, Justice Wahhab Miah, chair of the five-member SC bench, said, “I'm sure he [Justice Sinha] is at his residence. It depends on him whom he will meet.”
However, the lawyers continued pleading for steps.
At one stage, the acting CJ said, “We've heard your submission. We will think about the matter.”
Speaking at a press briefing, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the SCBA's plea “does not have any legal basis”.
“They [SCBA members] should have met Justice Wahhab Miah on the very day he took charge [as acting chief justice]. But they didn't do that. Rather, they appeared before the court,” he said.
'CJ TO RETIRE WITH HONOUR'
The ruling Awami League-led 14-party alliance yesterday expressed optimism the CJ would go into retirement with honour.
“Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha is a respected person. The 14-party alliance also honours him. But unfortunately Justice Sinha repeatedly made the chief justice's post controversial,” said Health Minister Mohammed Nasim.
He was briefing reporters after a meeting of alliance leaders at the AL president's Dhanmondi office.
Nasim, also an AL presidium member, alleged the CJ had created controversy over installing the statue of Lady Justice on the SC premises.
“Besides, the whole nation was frustrated with his observations in the 16th amendment case verdict,” he added.
'CJ UNDER HOUSE ARREST'
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed yesterday alleged that the CJ has been put under “house arrest” by the government.
“The government has annihilated the independence of the judiciary by putting him under the house arrest,” he said at a discussion at the Jatiya Press Club.
The former law minister claimed nobody, including relatives of Justice Sinha, was being allowed to meet him and even his land phone connection was severed.
Doubting the authenticity of the CJ's leave application, Moudud said there were five mistakes in it which went viral in social media. “A responsible man like him cannot sign an application full of mistakes. It's impossible.”
The BNP leader also claimed that there was no similarity between Justice Sinha's usual signature and the one shown in the leave application.
Moudud, also a senior lawyer, said “the plot was devised to send Justice Sinha abroad by force only for delivering a verdict against the government's will”.