Law secy says sorry
Law Secretary Kazi Habibul Awal apologised to a parliamentary committee yesterday for his role in sending two district judges into retirement without following due legal procedure. He promised that such incident will not occur in the future.
"Since I am the secretary [of the law ministry], I am taking all responsibility for whatever happened--right or wrong. Forgive me and forget if there was anything wrong," Awal was quoted by a lawmaker as telling a meeting of the parliamentary body.
At the meeting held in camera, the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry was convinced by the law secretary's confession and decided not to proceed further with the issue, members of the committee said.
The meeting also decided not to ask prime minister's adviser HT Imam and Establishment Secretary Iqbal Mahmud to appear before the committee to explain their roles in the incident.
The parliamentary body on August 27 decided to investigate the roles of the three in sending judges Shajahan Hossain Saju and Abdul Gafur into retirement without consultation with the Supreme Court.
The two judges eventually got back their jobs.
"We do not want to discuss the issue further as the law secretary took all responsibility for irregularities and unconstitutional actions in sending the two judges into retirement," Suranjit Sengupta, chief of the parliamentary body, said at a short briefing after the meeting held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
Asked if any action will be taken against the law secretary, Suranjit said, "We do not want to put him in another dock since he took all responsibility."
Talking to The Daily Star over telephone, former law minister and committee member Abdul Matin Khasru said the matter has been disposed of following the law secretary's submission.
State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam, committee members Fazle Rabbi Mia and Nurul Islam Sujan were present at the briefing at the parliament's media centre.
Committee sources said the law secretary came under fire at the meeting for his involvement in the incident.
A number of committee members said the prime minister was misguided in preparing the order for sending the judges into retirement and later her name was misused to defend the decision.
A day after the parliamentary body decided to investigate the role of the premier's adviser and the two secretaries, HT Imam claimed at a press conference that the judges were sent into retirement on orders of the prime minister and that it was lawful.
"We are surprised to see how HT Imam misguided Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," committee member and BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury told The Daily Star after the meeting.
He said the prime minister goes through every page of a document. "I think Imam misguided her in a surreptitious way."
Examining the documents on the issue, the parliamentary committee concluded that sending the two judges into retirement without following due legal procedure was unconstitutional.
"It was done with a mala fide intention," committee member Fazle Rabbi told The Daily Star after the meeting, referring to the long-standing conflict between the law secretary and Bangladesh Judicial Service Association.
The law secretary at the meeting, however, claimed that as a public servant he performed his duty in connection with sending the judges into retirement "without any mala fide intention", a committee member said.
In a surprise move on July 30, the government sent the two judges into retirement for their involvement in the judicial service association's demonstration at the secretariat on July 27.
The two judges--Shajahan Hossain Saju and Abdul Gafur--are president and secretary of the association.
In the face of strong criticism, the government however reinstated them after two days.
The documents submitted at the committee's meeting yesterday show that the Supreme Court was not consulted before taking the action against the judges and that HT Imam initiated the process by sending a note to the law secretary through the establishment secretary.
The Daily Star obtained copies of the documents.
The adviser in his note said the prime minister ordered to send the two judges into retirement under section 9(2) of the Public Servant Retirement Act 1974 on consideration of the report of National Security Intelligence and information received from other agencies.
The establishment secretary forwarded the note to the law secretary, who prepared the summary report on sending the judges into retirement. After taking signatures of the law minister and state minister for law, the file was placed before the president for his consent. The president gave consent and signed the file.