Space For Rent
Monday, February 8, 2016, Magh 26, 1422 BS, Rabius Sani 27, 1437 Hijri

The post-retirement judgment issue
Published :Monday, 8 February, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 29

Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury, who retired from the Appellate Division of the High Court in October last year, is once again in the news. The reason of course has to do with his disagreements, which he has been airing in public, with Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha. The latest cause behind Justice Chowdhury's ire relates to what he has called Justice Sinha's unwillingness to accept judgments from him that were written after he went into retirement. Chowdhury has now asked the CJ, through a letter, to accept the judgments in light of the responses that were made following Justice Sinha's earlier comment that judgments written in a post-retirement stage by judges were a violation of the Constitution. Following the comment, the issue was debated on in the Jatiyo Sangsad, where the general opinion was that indeed judgments could be written by judges after they proceeded into retirement. For their part, as Justice Chowdhury notes in his letter, Law Minister Anisul Haq and his immediate predecessor were of the view that it had for years indeed been a convention for judgments to be written in this manner.
Now that Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury has raised the issue, in public through his interaction with the media on Sunday, we think the entire matter warrants a thorough discussion on the part of legal experts in the country. Our belief is predicated on the idea that, firstly, it is not quite appropriate that such debates be played out in public in a way that could undermine the judiciary and, secondly, for all the opinions given out so far on the post-retirement judgment issue, it is of paramount importance that the matter be deliberated upon in detail. The simple logic here is that where retirement from other branches of government, notably parliament and the executive, precludes individuals from getting involved in law making or administrative work, the question of retired judges staying involved with the judiciary, albeit in the specific field of judgments concerning the cases they presided over while in office, is certain to result in divided opinion. That is a most important reason why the matter needs to be focused on.
There is little question that the judiciary in Bangladesh has consistently played a constructive and proactive role since the emergence of the country as an independent state. In a great number of instances, it has stepped into the scene in the larger national interest. Attempts to undermine the judiciary through splitting it into a number of divisions were resisted successfully and the judiciary itself made sure that such steps did not succeed. Again, there have been all the landmark judgments that the courts have made over the decades, moves that have strengthened public confidence in the judiciary as that essential body of men and women in whose hands the public weal will always be safe. And, indeed, the public interest has always been served by the judiciary.
It is in light of the prestige the judiciary holds in the country, among citizens across the spectrum, that we feel the judgment issue calls for a serious rethink. And only those engaged in the legal profession are qualified to do that.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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