Thursday, October 21

HC scraps 16th amendment



The High Court today scrapped the 16th amendment to constitution that empowered the parliament to impeach Supreme Court judges for incapacity or misconduct.

A three-member special bench led by Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury by majority view declared the amendment illegal and unconstitutional following a writ petition that challenged the legality of the 16th amendment.

After the ruling, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the government will appeal against it.

The government will not have to take HC permission for appealing against today’s verdict. The HC has given the government a certificate that is needed for appeal.

The House led by the Awami League on September 17, 2014 unanimously passed the 16th amendment and regained the power available in the 1972 constitution to impeach judges.

Earlier, SC judges were removed by the president following the recommendation by the Supreme Judicial Council, a body formed by the chief justice and two senior most Appellate Division judges.

On November 5, 2014, nine SC lawyers, including Asaduzzaman Siddique, Aklas Uddin Bhuiyan and Sarwar Ahad Chowdhury, filed the petition, saying that the amendment might have been motivated from a “malafide” intention and the judges might feel at risk before passing an order against a lawmaker.

Four days later, the HC issued a rule upon the government asking it why the amendment should not be declared unconstitutional and annulled.

The three-member HC bench started hearing the rule on May 21 last year and heard expert opinions from five amici curiae (friends of court), including eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain. The four others are Mahmudul Islam, now deceased, M Amir-Ul Islam, Rokanuddin Mahmud, and Ajmalul Hossain QC.

Dr Kamal, a framer of the constitution, told the HC in August last year the 16th amendment that re-empowered parliament to impeach SC judges affects the judicial independence.