Wednesday, July 6

Impeachment law likely in 3 months: Minister


Law Minister Anisul Huq

Law Minister Anisul Huq

News Desk: The government is likely to enact a law in three months to determine the procedure of removal of Supreme Court judges on ground of incapacity and misbehavior, the law minister said today.

Opinion will be sought from legal experts before formulating the law, Anisul Huq said while talking to reporters after attending a programme as chief guest at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

The law minister said that he will not take any hasty decision in this regard since the law will be formulated on the basis of the experts’ opinions.

The law minister’s remark came a day after President Abdul Hamid gave his assent to the 16th amendment bill amid widespread criticism.

With the president signing the bill passed in parliament last Wednesday, the provision for the chief justice-led Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) also ceased to exist after more than 35 years of its introduction.

Now parliament is also vested with the authority to remove the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners; chiefs and members of the Public Service Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Human Rights Commission; and the comptroller and auditor general on the same grounds.

The president gave his consent to the bill yesterday noon when the BNP-led alliance was observing a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal protesting the constitutional amendment.

To protest the amendment, pro-BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami lawyers too boycotted court proceedings across the country yesterday.

Parliament cannot remove SC judges or any of the aforementioned persons until the relevant law is enacted.

The constitution, which took effect in December 1972, had empowered parliament to remove SC judges by passing a resolution with two-thirds majority on grounds of misbehaviour and incapacity.

But it could not be made effective as the law required to this end was not made.

The situation, however, changed after two years. The fourth amendment to the charter in January 1975 curtailed the House’s power and bestowed the authority on the president.

Military ruler General Ziaur Rahman then introduced the SJC by amending the constitution through a martial law proclamation, which was later ratified in the fifth amendment in 1979.

The High Court in 2005 declared the fifth amendment illegal and void. Five years later, the Appellate Division upheld the HC verdict, but condoned the introduction of the SJC until December 2012.

The Awami League-led government reintroduced the SJC through the 15th amendment to the charter in 2011.

However, it just took three years for the AL to change its mind and now it once again amended the constitution to scrap the SJC and restore parliament’s power to remove the apex court judges.