Ministers, MPs criticise HC ruling on 16th amendment
Three ministers and a number of treasury and opposition bench MPs today criticised a High Court verdict that scrapped the 16th amendment to the constitution empowering the House to impeach Supreme Court judges for incapacity or misconduct.
Law Minister Anisul Huq, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu termed the HC verdict unconstitutional and beyond jurisdiction of the HC.
Terming the verdict as “a conspiracy against democracy and sovereign parliament”, the ministers and MPs said they will not tolerate any such conspiracy.
Speaking on point of order, they said the 16th amendment cannot be illegal or contradictory to the constitution as the same provision was mentioned in the original constitution of 1972.
Later Jatiya Party (JP) MPs led by Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament Raushan Ershad staged a brief walkout from the House protesting the placing of a bill proposing increase of remuneration and privileges of Supreme Court judges.
JP lawmakers demanded that the law minister halt the bill till settlement of the HC verdict.
The opposition MPs however returned to House after six minutes.
In response to MPs strong criticism against the HC verdict, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government will appeal to the Supreme Court against the verdict on Sunday or Monday hoping that the Appellate Division will scrap the HC’s verdict.
Opposition Jatiya Party MPs staged protest while law minister was delivering his statement and demanded that the government takes strong position against the HC verdict.
They demanded that the Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who was presiding over the sitting at that time, issue a ruling on this matter ensuring sovereignty of the parliament and dignity of the lawmakers.
Pandemonium broke out in the House for couple of minutes as JP MPs started shouting refusing the law minister’s statement.
Supporting the lawmakers’ feelings, the law minister assured them that the Appellate Division is likely to dismiss the HC verdict.
“It is quite normal that the MPs will show their protest against the verdict. But I am telling you that this [HC verdict] is not the last decision. We will appeal against the verdict,” Anisul Huq said amid shouting by some opposition MPs.
Anisul also said the 16th amendment to the constitution is not illegal. “Therefore it [the verdict] is not maintainable.”
Arguing in favour of 16th amendment, Anisul Huq said the government brought the amendment in a bid to retain freedom and honour of judiciary and judges.
Speaking on point of order Tofail Ahmed said the HC should not give verdict against the 16th amendment. He also hoped that the government will get justice at the SC.
Lambasting Dr Kamal Hossain, Tofail said the jurist who is also known as an architect of the country’s constitution, spoke against the 16th amendment during the hearing at the HC.
State Minister and JP MP Chunnu questioned whether the parliament will work as per the SC directives or work independently.
He also sought Speaker’s ruling in this regard.
Ruling Awami League MP Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim suggested that there was conspiracy behind the HC verdict.
JP MPs Fakhrul Imam, Kazi Feroz Rashid and Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal MP Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal also took part in the discussion.
In response to JP MPs opposition to place the bill titled ‘Supreme Court Judges (Remuneration and Privileges) Amendment Bill-2016’, law minister urged them to be generous in this regard.
“The bill is not related to any individual, rather it is related to an institution,” law minister added.
The bill was placed finally amid walkout of the opposition MPs.
The bill was later sent to the parliamentary standing committee on law for scrutiny and send back to the House within 90 days.