No relief for Sohel Taj | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 10, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 10, 2012

No relief for Sohel Taj

Now Speaker declines to accept his resignation from JS

Speaker Abdul Hamid has declined to "accept" the resignation of Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj from the Jatiya Sangsad, claiming he did not follow constitutional provisions and rules of procedure of the House in submitting the resignation letter.
Clarifying his decision, the Speaker said Sohel Taj, now in the US, did not write the letter in his own hand, rather it was typed. Also, he did not submit the letter in person and it did not contain the phrase "willing to resign," which is mandatory under article 67 of the constitution.
"It seems to me that the resignation letter was not written in line with the constitution and the rules of procedure. Therefore, I did not accept his resignation letter," Hamid told journalists at his JS office yesterday.
Sohel Taj has to come to Bangladesh to submit in person his resignation letter to the Speaker if he desires to quit, he added.
The Speaker's decision comes more than two weeks after Sohel Taj resigned as lawmaker on April 23.
The reasons he cited to justify his decision, however, are not in conformity with a High Court verdict.
According to a 1995 HC judgment, the constitution does not have any provision authorising the Speaker to accept or reject a resignation letter submitted by an MP.
On the practice of submitting resignation letter by a lawmaker in person, the HC said the letter "need not be written by the lawmaker concerned; it is sufficient if it is signed by him or her."
However, if there is any doubt, the Speaker may check the authenticity of the letter or the voluntariness of it, the HC observed.
The HC gave the judgment in response to a writ petition filed after 147 opposition lawmakers resigned en masse from the Fifth Parliament on December 28, 1994.
The then Speaker Sheikh Razzak Ali had declined to accept those and told the House that the en masse resignation in his view was not in line with the article 67 (2) of the constitution.
Aggrieved at the reported interference in his work, Sohel Taj, son of the country's first prime minister Tajuddin Ahmad, stepped down as state minister for home on May 31, 2009.
But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 19 this year said Sohel Taj was still a state minister as she did not "accept" his resignation.
Legal experts, however, say there is no need for prime minister's acceptance of a minister or a junior minister's resignation letter.
Hasina's announcement apparently prompted Sohel Taj to resign from the House as well, as that would put an end to the prime minister's effort to keep him as a state minister without portfolio.
Under article 58 (1) (b) of the constitution, his resignation as an MP would disqualify him from continuing as a state minister without portfolio.
But Abdul Hamid's decision has denied him the relief.
As it appears now, Sohel Taj will lose his membership in parliament if he remains absent from the House proceedings for 36 more consecutive sittings. He has already been absent from 54 sittings.
The budget session, which is likely to begin on 27th of this month, may have 36 sittings.
When his attention was drawn to the provision, Hamid said the Speaker had discretionary powers to grant leave to an MP. "So, I may allow him leave since I don't know whether he is able to attend the House."
Asked if he had talked to Sohel Taj lately, Hamid said he did over the phone.
"Sohel Taj wanted to know when his resignation would be accepted. I told him it would take time since I have to examine the constitutional provision, rules of procedure and convention," he added.
The Speaker said Sohel Taj might have signed the letter, but "I am not sure whether he was forced to sign the letter."
Hamid claimed to have found some other flaws in the way the letter was submitted.
Hamid said Sohel Taj sent the letter by his aide, Kawser Ali, who submitted it at 10:50am on April 23. The resignation letter was also dated April 23 and the local time in the US was 00:50am of April 23.
"So how is it possible that the hard copy of his resignation letter reached my office in just 50 minutes?" Hamid asked.

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