Diatribes against CJ continue
For a second day in a row, Food Minister Qamrul Islam and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque blasted Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha yesterday.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam termed their comments unconstitutional and unprecedented, and urged all to refrain from making any hostile comment about the CJ.
Qamrul, also a joint general secretary of Awami League, once again alleged that the chief justice was openly speaking in the language used by BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and their lobbyists in their efforts to undermine the war crimes trial.
The food minister was speaking at a meeting organised by Dhaka city AL at its office on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital yesterday.
The ministers' comments come at a time when the Supreme Court is scheduled to give its verdict tomorrow in the war crimes case against Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali.
Qamrul alleged Quasem spent crores of taka to make the tribunal and the trial process questionable and appointed international lobbyists to obstruct the trial.
Quasem may be in the condemned cell, but his money is spinning outside and he is hatching a conspiracy, the minister alleged. “We will remain on the street on March 8 [tomorrow] like we did during pronouncements of other verdicts.”
'NOT RIGHT AT ALL'
The Liberation War minister went even further, saying the chief justice should not be delivering the verdict in Quasem's case.
“You [the CJ] are the top judge of the country. You consider it yourself if it will be logical for you to deliver the verdict after making such comments. In my view, it will not be right at all,” a private television quoted Mozammel as telling a discussion organised by Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote yesterday.
On Saturday, Qamrul demanded that the appeal in Quasem's case be reheard by a reconstituted Appellate Division bench, keeping the chief justice out of it. He added the CJ in an open court made some observations that raised questions about the prosecutors and investigators' role in the trial.
Speaking at the same programme, the Liberation War minister said if the CJ had indeed made such comments, as a judge and responsible citizen, he must as well know the remedy.
THE CJ'S COMMENTS
On February 24, a five-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by the CJ completed hearing on Quasem's appeal and fixed March 8 for its judgment.
During the hearing of the appeal on February 23, the chief justice expressed dissatisfaction over the poor performance of the prosecutors and investigators in dealing with the war crimes cases.
The top judge of the country observed that a huge amount of money was being spent on the prosecutors and investigators, but they did not handle and investigate the cases properly.
Justice Sinha had also told the attorney general that the judges were shocked to note that the prosecutors appeared before the media to make statements immediately after a session of the case proceedings at the tribunal.
In his reaction, the attorney general said the two ministers' comments were unconstitutional and uncalled for, and urged all not to make any undesirable comment about the chief justice to keep the judiciary above controversy.
The CJ is the head of the judiciary and if he is made controversial, the entire judiciary will be affected, the AG told reporters at his office when asked to comment on the two ministers' remarks.
He requested all to wait for the apex court's verdict in Quasem's case.
Later in the day, the top state lawyer told the BBC Bangla, “Such comments by the ministers have damaged the judiciary and such remarks against the judiciary are unprecedented.”
Talking about the Jamaat leader's case, Law Minister Anisul Huq said, “When I was a lawyer, I never made any comments on sub judice matter. Today I am the law minister. If I make any comments on a sub judice matter, it would be a bad precedent.”
Asked about the comments of the two ministers, he said they perhaps expressed their own views and that he did not want to make any comment about it.
'THREAT TO JUDICIARY'
The Supreme Court Bar Association called on the apex court to take legal actions against the two ministers for their comments.
The ministers' remarks on a sub judice matter are a threat to the judiciary, SCBA President Khandker Mahbub Hossain told a press conference at the association auditorium.
He hoped the SC would act in this regard to uphold the image of the judiciary.
Replying to a query, Mahbub said the Appellate Division may initiate contempt of court proceedings against the two ministers.
SCBA Secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon demanded removal of the two ministers, saying they broke their oath of office by violating the constitution through making those comments.
The BNP, meanwhile, termed the ministers' comments “extremely audacious and political hooliganism”.
“The way Food Minister Qamrul Islam and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque asked the chief justice to quit is a naked interference in the judiciary. Their comments have once again proved that the one-party Baksal system of 1975 has been revived with its all aggressive features,” said BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Talking to reporters at the party's central office, he said the comments by Qamrul and Mozammel were tantamount to contempt of court.
According to the BNP leader, the ruling AL is restoring to threats and intimidations after failing to establish a full control over the judiciary.