Speaker, CJ with same status
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the status of the chief justice will be equal to that of the speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad in the Warrant of Precedence.
A five-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain came up with the ruling after disposing of an appeal against a 2010 High Court order that declared the existing Warrant of Precedence illegal and void.
The positions of the speaker and the chief justice are third and fourth respectively in the existing Warrant of Precedence, formulated in 1986 and revised in 2008.
The president and the prime minister hold the first and second positions.
The Warrant of Precedence is used for all government purposes including ceremonial occasions.
The apex court also said the status of the attorney general will be above the cabinet secretary's, and the district judges' position will be equal to that of the secretary.
The position of the district judges is 24th, and that of the cabinet secretary, chiefs of staff of the army, navy and air force and principal secretary is 12th. The secretaries are ranked 16th in the order.
Details of the SC observations and the grounds could not be known, as the full judgment was not released yesterday.
In a short verdict, the SC said, “The appeal has been disposed of with expunction, modification, observation and findings”. The short verdict has been published in the website of the SC.
Cabinet secretary's counsel Abdur Rab Chaudhury told The Daily Star that the SC verdict means the government has to amend the Warrant of Precedence.
The status of the chief justice, attorney general and the district judges will be changed in the amended order, he said, adding that the SC stay order on the HC verdict will remain in force until the amendments are made.
The amendment cannot be made until the top court releases the full verdict, Abdur Rab added.
Citing the SC observations, M Asaduzzaman, counsel for the petitioner of the writ that yielded the HC directive to issue a new Warrant of Precedence in 2010, said the status of the Appellate Division judges will be equal to that of cabinet ministers, while the positions of the HC division judges and state ministers will be same.
Members of parliament will be given precedence over the cabinet secretary, chiefs of the armed forces and principal secretary, he said, adding that the status of additional attorney general will be equal to that of secretary.
Lawmakers' status is 13th in the Warrant of Precedence now.
Following the writ petition, the HC on February 4, 2010, directed the government to issue a new Warrant of Precedence for the republic's officers, giving district judges and equivalent judicial officers' precedence over the chiefs of armed forces, and government secretaries.
Earlier in 2006, Md Ataur Rahman, a former secretary general of Bangladesh Judicial Service Association, filed the petition on behalf of the association.
The petition claimed that the Cabinet Division had framed the existing Warrant of Precedence in 1986 in an arbitrary manner, without evaluating the dignity and status of judicial officials.
Later in 2011, the cabinet secretary filed the appeal with the SC on behalf of the government.