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'Dual rule' in judiciary: Law minister contradicts CJ

Published : Wednesday, 2 November, 2016 at 12:00 AM  Count : 316

Law Minister Anisul Huq on Tuesday expressed his disagreement with Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha over the "dual rule" in judiciary.
The comment of the Chief Justice for restoration of Article 116 of the 1972 constitution is self-contradictory, Minister Anisul said at a press briefing a day after Justice Sinha's statement on the state of separation of judiciary.
 "I respect the honourable Chief Justice very much. I saw, read and heard his statement and would like to disagree with him with much respect," he said adding "On one side you are saying Article 96 (of the Constitution) is a historical mistake, again you are saying you want togo back to Article 116. This is a self-contradiction."
Noting that the Article 116 of the existing Constitution is one of the main reasons behind the slow pace of the judiciary modernization, the Chief Justice on Monday demanded reinstatement of the same article of the country's original charter.
He made the demand in a message issued on the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the separation of the judiciary from the executive.
The original Article 116 of the 1972 constitution had given the Supreme Court power over the lower courts. The apex court had the power to control lower court judge's postings, promotions and grant of leave. It could also discipline people employed in the judicial service, and had control over the magistrates' exercise of judicial power.
As per the Article 116 of the present Constitution, the control (including the power of posting, promotion and grant of leave) and discipline of persons employed in the judicial service and magistrates exercising judicial functions shall vest in the President and shall be exercised by him in consultation with the Supreme Court while the Constitution of 1972 stipulates 'the control and discipline of persons employed in the judicial service was completely exercised by the Supreme Court'.
The High Court had scrapped 16th amendment to the Constitution restoring Article 96 of the 1972 constitution that empowered the parliament to remove a SC judge for his incapacity or misbehaviour, the Law Minister said.
Replying to a query, he said "Article 116 (a) of the present Constitution guarantees the freedom judiciary. I don't think we need to go back to the original article for this. With this article in existence, I don't think we need to go back to Article 116 in its original form of 1972." Anisul Huq said.
The Minister, however, said the government can bring change or modification to the Article 116 of the constitution for the sake of independence of the judiciary if it is necessary.  
"I bent over backwards to accommodate the Supreme Court. I have tried to implement recommendations of the Supreme Court for the last two and a half years. 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.
Anisul Huq said, "The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina never interfered in the judiciary; rather it always did things needed to strengthen its independence."
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 that indicates government's respect for independence of judiciary," he said.
Anisul Huq said the work to establish freedom of judiciary is a continuing process while it began with the landmark 2007 judgment.
He agreed with the Chief Justices' initiative to dispose of old cases filed before 2010 to reduce the backlog of cases.

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