Govt to seek review
The government will file a review petition with the Supreme Court, seeking expunction of some of the remarks by the chief justice in the 16th amendment case verdict, Law Minister Anisul Huq said yesterday.
“You can assume that if review petition is the means of expunging [certain words] under the Supreme Court rules, then a review petition will be filed seeking expunction,” he told a Meet the Press at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital.
Already, the “objectionable and irrational” words in the judgment have been identified for the purpose, he added.
However, he did not specify the date for filing the petition, but said, “We need to thoroughly scrutinise the full text of the verdict before lodging the petition.”
The law minister was critical of one particular observation in the verdict that “No nation, no country is made of or by one person”.
Anisul said this was irrelevant in the the case at hand and also contrary to the history. “There is no doubt that history has been distorted here.”
He said neither the country's independence nor its declaration happened overnight. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced it after earning the people's mandate through a political movement.
“It will be a crime if I distort it,” he said.
Asked if distorting history would be considered as misconduct, the minister said, “There is no definition of misconduct [for distorting history]. So this has to be checked to see if there has been misconduct or anything else. There is scope for that.”
Replying to another query as to who now holds the authority to remove judges over misconduct, he said, “Ultimately, the authority lies with the president. If there is no 16th amendment or any mention of the Supreme Judicial Council in the constitution, there is no one but the president [to handle the matter].”
About the movement and counter-movement by the two factions of Supreme Court lawyers, he said, “These incidents are not expected. It was not expected, too, that some untoward words will come in the judgment and it will distort history.”
He said that under the law everyone had the right to protest a verdict if it did not obstruct the court proceedings.
“I said the post of the chief justice was an institution and this institution was not person-centric. We all, the general people, should be careful about this institution. I think emotion is running high, but it will settle down,”
Criticisms from lawmakers and cabinet members have engulfed the apex court since it scrapped the 16th amendment to the constitution.
In its full verdict on August 1, the apex court said the provision of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for the removal of SC judges for misconduct or incapacity has been reinstated in the constitution.
Replying to a question about this, the law minister said two former chief justices told him that there was a debate about the automatic restoration of the provision of the SJC.
He also claimed there was no constitutional vacuum in the country at the moment.
Asked about the criticism against the chief justice by several ministers, Anisul said the ministers also needed to be respectful to the judiciary.
“The posts of the chief justice, the speaker, the prime minister and the president are institutions and we should all be respectful to these posts,” he added.
About the dinner of Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader with the CJ on Saturday night, the law minister said discussions among the judiciary, the legislative and the executive organs could be held for the sake of the country and its people. Such discussion would continue for the development of the country.
“There might be misunderstanding while moving forward. But those need to be settled for the interest of the country.”
ABOUT ARTICLE 57
Anisul said the fate of article 57 of the ICT Act would be decided within a month as to whether it would remain or not.
Pointing out that cyber crime is on the rise in the country, he said such crimes needed to be checked through a law. The government has taken an initiative to enact a new law “Digital Security Act” where article 57 will be inserted taking journalists' objections into consideration.
He said there would be categories of punishment in the proposed law which were absent in the existing ICT Act. “For small crimes, punishment will be small and for big crimes, punishment will be big.”
He said the provision was needed to help check cyber crimes and not to hamper “real journalism” at all.
"Don't consider article 57 as an article about journalists' offences ... article 57 won't put journalists into trouble at all. As it's not clear now, it's being misused. Now no one will be able to file a case easily under article 57 as some changes have already been brought in its procedures,” he added.
Asked about the progress in the investigation into journalist couple Sagar-Runi murder case, Anisul urged the journalist community to be patient as the “probe is on and it will be completed”.
About bringing back the killers of Bangabandhu, he said discussions were going on with the US and Canada to bring back two identified killers.
About the August 21 grenade attack case, he said the case was now at the final stage and it would end very soon.
About the recent comments of Finance Minister AMA Muhith on the 9th wage board for journalists, the law minister said he would talk to the finance minister and the information minister over the issue soon.
DRU President Shakhawat Hossain Badsha and General Secretary Mursalin Nomani also spoke. Law Secretary Abu Saleh Sk Md Zahirul Haque was present at the programme.