Judiciary | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 04, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 04, 2010


Suranjit Sengupta , Chief of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Law Ministry, at a press briefing at the Jatiya Sangsad media centre said the constitution of the country did not authorize the Chief Justice to evaluate the past of the judges who have been appointed. The Supreme Judicial Council and other bodies were there for this purpose.
Civil society and common citizens do not, however, share Mr. Sengupta's views. While addressing a seminar organised by Monthly Legal Aid, former Chief Justice Mahmudul Amin Choudhury compared the judiciary with a "glasshouse" and said it could crumble at any moment if steps were not taken right now to protect it. Referring to the remarks made by the chairman of a parliamentary body he said, "It is a threat to the judiciary." He said: "The chairman at a press briefing said the Chief Justice disrespected the constitution and violated his own oath by not swearing in the two judges, and that is why necessary measures could be taken. It means he threatened the Chief Justice: if the Chief Justice administers the oath, he is safe and if he does not, they will send it to the Supreme Judicial Council or take other actions." He also referred to a minister's threat to go to the Supreme Judicial Council for the comments of a High Court judge.
Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury criticized lawmakers for wasting time on discussing inconsequential issues in parliament and hurling abusive language at opponents. He also criticized the attitude of the state counsels, saying they think everything will happen as per their expectations. In the same seminar, Chief Justice Fazlul Karim pointed out that presently democracy had emerged as a popular system worldwide, but it stumbled again and again in our country -- and where democracy was under question, its accountability was a far cry. He said in the guise of democracy, sometimes one-party rule, sometimes military rule and sometimes caretaker government system had been in place. In fact, the modern accountable system or democratic system was progressing slowly. The Chief Justice, however, observed, "Our democratic government is always trying to give the democratic system an institutional shape. Although we talk about democracy, we do not adopt its ideology and hesitate to shoulder the minimum responsibility in an accountable way. Though we get our salary from people's taxes, we work as the employees of the government or a party, not as servants of the people." He stressed the need for changing the attitude and serving people. The Chief Justice said it was not the time for blame game. He asked all to work jointly to make parliamentary democracy sustainable and suggested resolving all problems through discussion.
The argument about judicial self-restraint appears specious. Self-restraint may sometimes prove illusory. Self-imposed or self-generated restraint may act as a suffocating inhibition preventing the court from reaching its full stature.

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