16th Amendment: Lack of two-thirds majority to create crisis: CJ

16th Amendment: Lack of two-thirds majority to create crisis: CJ

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Dhaka, May 25 – Voicing concern over empowering Parliament to impeach the Supreme Court judges for their incapacity or misconduct, Chief Justice SK Sinha on Thursday said, a vacuum will be created in the country if there is no two-thirds majority in the House.“What if there’s a hung Parliament? What will happen in the case of serious allegations against a judge if Parliament has no two-thirds majority? This makes me think,” he said.
The Chief Justice made the observation while hearing an appeal filed against a High Court (HC) order that declared illegal the 16th amendment to the Constitution establishing Parliament’s authority to remove the Supreme Court judges.
Mentioning that they protect the country’s most sacred law, the Constitution, SK Sinha said, “We’ll see something is inserted into it which creates a vacuum. What will happen then? What will the judiciary do then?”
Meanwhile, three senior lawyers have observed that Parliament should not be empowered to impeach the Supreme Court judges for their ‘incapacity’ or ‘misconduct’.
Former Justice TH Khan, Barrister M Amir-ul Islam and Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud made the observations while placing their depositions as amici curiae on the 7th day of hearing on the 16th Amendment to the Constitution with a seven-member Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice SK Sinha.
In his deposition, TH Khan said the election through which the current parliament was formed was not legal and this parliament passed the 16th amendment. The Supreme Judicial Council should be empowered further, he said.
Joining the hearing, Barrister Rokanuddin read out a media report on the remarks of an MP about a judge.
He quoted the MP as saying, “Who the hell did make you a judge?” and posed a question, ‘Will you hand over the authority of removal of the judges to them (MPs) who can make such comments in Parliament?
He also said an anarchic situation will be created if there is no Supreme Judicial Council.
Barrister M Amirul Islam said nowhere in the world, including India, Sri Lanka and Malaysian, parliament’s bid to remove judges could get approval. “There’s a system in our country, Supreme Judicial Council. So, they’ll look after the removal of judges. If any allegation is raised against any judge, judiciary will investigate it and the Supreme Judicial Council will take the decision,” he said.
The state on Sunday started placing arguments before the Supreme Court in an appeal filed against a High Court (HC) order that declared illegal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution establishing Parliament’s authority to remove Supreme Court judges.
On February 8, the SC appointed 12 senior jurists as amici curiae seeking their opinions over the legality of the amendment.
They are TH Khan, Dr Kamal Hossain, Barrister Rafiqul Haque, Barrister M Amirul Islam, Barrister AF Hasan Arif, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, AJ Mohammad Ali, Barrister Rokonuddin, Fida M Kamal. Barrister Ajmalul Hossain, Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan and Barrister MI Farooqui.
On September 17, 2014, the Jatiya Sangsad passed the ‘Constitution (16th Amendment) Bill, 2014′ without any opposition, empowering Parliament to impeach judges of the Supreme Court for their ‘incapacity’ or ‘misconduct’.
Nine Supreme Court lawyers filed a writ petition with the High Court on November 5, 2014, questioning the validity of the amendment.
On May 5 last year, the HC declared the 16th Amendment to the Constitution illegal. The government on January 4 last filed an appeal challenging the HC decision.
The Constitution drafted in 1972 had given the MPs the power to impeach judges and decide their term in office. But after the Fourth Amendment in 1975, the power was vested with the President. – UNB

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