Jurists ponder what to do
The chief justice's remark that the country's executive branch wants to take away all power from the judiciary has left senior jurists pondering what they should do now.
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha made the comment while inaugurating a week-long book fair on the premises of Supreme Court Bar Association on Saturday.
He said lawyers became vocal whenever such things happened previously. “Now if the judiciary faces attacks from all quarters -- lawyers, the executive branch and justice-seekers -- who will protect it?” he questioned.
Talking to The Daily Star, Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday said, “I read his remarks in newspapers. I don't want to make any comment on the basis of newspaper reports. I will collect the speech as it is. Only then will I make a comment, if needed.”
Abdul Baset Majumder, vice-chairman of Bangladesh Bar Council, said they would convene a meeting of the council soon to discuss the chief justice's remarks.
An eminent jurist declined to comment on the matter. “It's a very sensitive issue. I don't want to make any remark at this stage. I am communicating with other senior lawyers to find out if we could issue a joint statement on the issue,” he added.
The chief justice at that programme also spoke about boycott of courts by lawyers.
“You, the learned lawyers, speak much about the independence of the judiciary and rule of law. But how would the judiciary work independently without you? How would things work if you only support the issues that involve your interest?”
About the role of Bangladesh Bar Council, the chief justice said lawyers were united previously and the bar council was strict, but it is now giving in to unjust demands of lawyers at the district courts. No action is being taken against lawyers who are violating the rules.
Citing an example, he said he along with bar council Vice-chairman Abdul Baset Majumder went to Sunamganj to join a function. “I told him [Baset] lawyers have been boycotting a female judge's court there as she asked them to have the old cases disposed of. You asked me to withdraw her [the judge], but couldn't say anything to your lawyers. Is this for votes?”
The CJ said 30 lakh cases have been pending with courts across the country, of which three lakh are with higher courts. He sought cooperation from lawyers to end case backlog.