Law Minister Anisul Huq today expressed his disagreement with Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha over the alleged “dual rule” in judiciary calling his comment “self contradictory”.”I respect the honorable Chief Justice very much. I saw, read and heard his statement and would like to disagree with him with much respect,” Huq told a news briefing a day after Sinha’s statement on the state of separation of judiciary.He added, “On one side you are saying article 96 (of the constitution) is a historical mistake, again you are saying you want to go back to article 116. This is a self-contradiction.”The law minister’s comments came a day after the chief justice alleged that the judiciary was exposed to a state of “duel rule” which hampered the judicial work and suggested reintroduction of the Article 116 of constitution of 1972 in its original form.
The High Court earlier this year in a verdict called the 1972 constitutional provision for removing Supreme Court judges was “an historical mistake” as it entrusted the parliament with the authority of impeaching them.The law minister said unlike the 1972 provision, the existing Article 116 (a) of the Constitution guaranteed the freedom of judiciary.”With this article in existence, I don’t think we need to go back to article 116 in its original form of 1972.” Huq said.Asked if the law ministry now regulated the judiciary instead of the president, Huq replied in the negative.”I bent over backwards to accommodate the Supreme Court. I try to follow all the recommendations made by the apex court and try to implement those. The Supreme Court is the last refuge for the people,” he said.The briefing was held coinciding with the ninth anniversary of separation of judiciary from the executive.At the very start of his briefing, Huq said Bangladesh framed its constitution soon after the independence under Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s stewardship with all its intention to ensure independence of judiciary.”It maintained checks and balances between all the state organs. But history after his death is the history of martial law. We have (however) been able to clean up the dirt through a historical verdict,” he said in an apparent reference to a 2007 Supreme Court judgment for separating judiciary from executive.The law minister said as Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister for the first time in 1996, she took initiatives to develop the required infrastructure as initial tasks to ensure freedom of judiciary. Most of those initiatives, he said, came to a standstill when her government failed to return to power in 2001 but when “Sheikh Hasina again formed the government in 2009, she considered the freedom of judiciary as one of the priorities”.”The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina never interfered in the judiciary; rather it always did things needed to strengthen its independence,” Huq said.The minister said the High Court granted bail to the main accused of the slain Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella’s murder trial, while a lower court earlier rejected his bail prayer.”We did not interfere in the trial process, but filed an appeal against the order with the apex court. I can give you countless examples like this (indicating government respect for independence of judiciary),” he said.Huq said the works to establish freedom of judiciary is a continued process while it began with the landmark 2007 judgment.”As per article 116 (a) of the constitution, government or executive branch never interfere in judiciary or judicial process. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes in democracy. It never interfere in judiciary, will not do it in future as well,” he said.