Parliament on Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution to take proper legal steps against the declaration of the 16th amendment to constitution as ‘ultra vires’ and cancelling unconstitutional, objectionable and irrelevant observations of the Chief Justice (CJ) in the Appellate Division verdict.
Jasod (JSD) lawmaker Moin Uddin Khan Badal placed the resolution in the House under the provision 147 (1) of the Rules of Procedure around 6pm when Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was in the chair.
The resolution was adopted by a voice vote following a marathon general discussion over it, which lasted for more than five hours.
The resolution reads, “Appropriate legal steps should be taken for cancelling the declaration of the 16th amendment to constitution as ‘ultra vires’ and scrapping unconstitutional, objectionable and irrelevant observations of the Chief Justice over Parliament and other important issues in the verdict of the 16th amendment case.”
Joining the discussion, MPs across the board harshly criticised Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha for his various remarks in the Supreme Court verdict that upheld the High Court judgment declaring ‘ultra vires’ the 16th amendment to the Constitution- that is, in violation of it.
Participating in the discussion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the judgment was full of contradictions which is not acceptable.
“There are so many contradictions even self-contradictions in this judgment. This is not acceptable to us. Who wrote this judgment from where?” she said.
The Prime Minister also said that the Constitution did not provide the apex court with the authority to amend the Constitution.
She said the CJ’s remarks regarding Bangabadhu are similar with that of anti-liberation people. “He (CJ) dishonored the role of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”
Sheikh Hasina said three organs of the country are complementary to each other. None shall undermine another. Everyone should run following the laws. Everybody should have accountability, she added.
About the Supreme Judicial Council formulated during the martial law she said this whole judiciary has been put under his sole authority with the introduction of the council. “If the CJ becomes angry with anyone, he can remove him from his post,” she added.
The Prime Minister said the CJ also undermined the President in this verdict.
Noting that the CJ claimed the Supreme Judicial Council became aligned with the basic structures of the Constitution, Sheikh Hasina questioned the motive of such claim.
“This verdict did not get any acceptability from anyone of the country,” she said adding that only BNP became cheerful without going through the whole text of the verdict properly as the supreme judicial council was restored.
Law Minister Anisul Huq categorically said this judgment will not go without final legal challenge. “We’ve already start working in this regard.”
He said the judgment was not delivered based on logics rather it was emotional and came out of hatred. “The verdict tarnished image of not only the judiciary, but also the whole country.”
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the Chief Justice termed MPs ‘immature’ in the verdict. “The justices appointed by the President, who is elected by us (MPs), are mature, but we are immature!” he said.
He said the CJ tried to make BNP cheerful through this judgment in a time when the country was marching forward under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
Noting that the CJ asked the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) not to conduct investigation against a judge, Tofail said, “The ACC can investigate graft charges of you (PM), me and all, but not justices. What a surprise!”
Talking about the Supreme Judiciary Council introduced in 1977, the AL leader said The Council did not investigate charge even against a single justice in the last 40 years.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozzamel Huq said there are many corruption allegations against the incumbent Chief Justice and now the people fear whether they will get justice in graft allegations against the Chief Justice if he will remain in the post.
It is not possible to get justice over the corrupt charges keeping SK Sinha in the post. So, it is essential to investigate the graft charges relieving him from the post, he said.
Noting that the chief justice made many unnecessary and irrelevant remarks over Bangabandhu in the verdict the minister said, “It is natural that he does not know about Bangabandhu as he is self-declared peace committee member.”
AL MP Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim said the sedition charge can be brought against the Chief Justice for violating several articles including 27, 94 and 116 of the Constitution.
“You broke your oath. The Chief Justice, you worked against Parliament, people, MPs and the Constitution. You (CJ) are hatching conspiracy against the country. So, you can be brought to the book on sedition charge.”
“It is you (CJ) who will have to cancel the judgment that delivered by yourself against the state and the constitution. If you don’t cancel it, please wait for what steps to be taken,” he warned.
Selim urged the Chief Justice to seek apology to the nation confessing mistakes. “Admit that I (CJ) did mistake and say that I myself am correcting it. I’ll not do such mistake anymore… If you do exaggeration, please be prepared. You are not mightier than this Parliament,” the AL MP said.
Jatiya Party MP Fakhrul Imam said the President, the Prime Minister, ministers and justices take oath to protect the Constitution, but there is no word ‘to protect the Constitution’ in oath content for MPs as the lawmakers are creators of the Constitution.
Opposition leader in the House Raushon Ershad, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon, Water Resource Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque, AL MPs Dr Dipu Moni and Fazilatun Nasa Bappy, independent MPs Rustum Ali Faraji and Tahjib Alam Siddique also joined the discussion.
In the resolution, Badal said Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha termed Members of Parliament ‘immature’ alongside making unnecessary and unwanted remarks regarding many irrelevant issues in his observation in the verdict of the 16th amendment case. So, huge discussions and remours continue over it, which is not expected for the whole nation, he added.
“This parliament wants end of the situation following massive discussion so that efforts of any evil and anti-people force to catch fish in trouble water would be thwarted,” he said.
On September 17, 2014, the Jatiya Sangsad passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution empowering the parliament to remove justices of the Supreme Court on ground of incapacity and misbehavior.
On July 3, 2017, the Appellate Division passed down the verdict upholding the judgment of the High Court. And the full-text of the verdict was released on August 1 last.