Criticising divisions in the Supreme Court Bar Association, a former Appellate Division judge yesterday said the country would have a “spineless judiciary” due to divisions in the Bar and partisan role of lawyers.
Speaking at a discussion, Justice Md Abdul Matin said the judiciary wouldn’t have been “weak” had the lawyers not been split into BNP and Awami League camps and they considered themselves as guardian of laws.
Humanity Foundation organised the programme titled “12 years of separation of judiciary from the executive” at the Jatiya Press Club.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, Bangladesh Bar Council Vice President Yusuf Hossain Humayun, Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association Mahbub Uddin Khokon, former district judge Masdar Hossain, Ain o Salish Kendra Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza, and Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association Syeda Rizwana Hasan, among others, also spoke at the discussion.
Mentioning the names of Khokon and Humayun, Justice Matin said they were responsible for the “calamity in the judiciary”. “We cannot expect to have a strong judiciary unless we have a united Bar.”
He said judges in many verdicts said there could not be a bad judgement unless there was a bad lawyer.
“You can expect a good judgement if you have a good lawyer in the case. Likewise, you can expect a good judiciary if you have a good Bar. This is because judges come from the Bar.”
The judge said the country would have an independent and meaningful judiciary in future if the Bar carried out its responsibilities properly.
Ali Imam Majumder said the spirit of the 1972 constitution was in favour of establishing an independent judiciary.
He said judges shouldn’t be appointed to posts in the civil administration. For example, he said most of the top officials, including the secretary of the law ministry, were picked from the judiciary and they were working in the ministry leaving their main work as judges.
Different ministries also appoint judges as legal officers which should not happen, he observed.
The respective ministries can pick legal officers from lawyers, Majumder said.
The retired bureaucrat said those who are appointed directly to the higher court should be meritorious, honest, and competent.
He said the country’s achievement in separating the judiciary from the executive was not small.
“It’s true that we couldn’t achieve what we wanted regarding separation of the judiciary. But we will not stop our efforts in this regard. We will have to raise our voice to this end.”
Yusuf Hossain Humayun stressed the need for establishing a separate secretariat under the Supreme Court for independent functioning of the judiciary.
Mahbub Uddin Khokon said all political parties, while in opposition, used to raise their voice in favour of an independent judiciary.
He underscored the need for enacting a law for appointing judges.
Judge Masdar Hossain said separation of the judiciary would be meaningless if the judiciary did not become independent financially.
Rizwana Hasan said curbing independence of the judiciary is a global trend.
She said the executive has a constitutional obligation to ensure independence of the judiciary.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, joint editor of Bangla daily Prothom Alo, presented the keynote paper, highlighting the context of the separation of judiciary.
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed moderated the programme.