The Supreme Court (SC) chamber judge today upheld a High Court verdict that declared illegal the government circulars and gazette notifications fixing the minimum age of freedom fighters at 12 and a half years in 1971.
As Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Md Nuruzzaman did not pass any order on a petition filed by the government seeking stay on the HC judgment, the High Court verdict will remain in force.
Justice Md Nuruzzaman, however, sent the government petition to the full bench of the Appellate Division for its hearing on June 23.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam appeared for the government while Barrister ABM Altaf Hossain argued for the writ petitioner.
Following 15 separate writ petitions filed by several freedom fighters, the HC on May 19 declared the circulars and gazette notifications fixing the minimum age of freedom fighters at 12 and a half years in 1971 illegal and unconstitutional.
According to a gazette notification issued on January 17 last year by the liberation war affairs ministry, people who were aged at least 12 and a half on November 30, 1971 would be eligible to apply for the status of a freedom fighter.
Earlier in November 2016, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs issued another circular and gazette notification imposing the minimum age of freedom fighters at 13 on March 26, 1971.
The government has so far changed the definition of freedom fighters 10 times and their list six times since the country’s independence. A scrutiny of the war heroes’ list is currently underway.
Earlier on May 19, HC said in its verdict that the definition of the freedom fighters was determined by the President’s Order 94 of 1972. It can be changed only by the parliament, not by a circular or gazette.
The President’s Order 94 of 1972 does not allow the government to fix or re-fix the age of the freedom fighters, the HC said.