Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha is facing 11 charges including “graft and money laundering”, the Supreme Court said in a press statement today.
Five judges of the Appellate Division of the SC refused to sit with the CJ Sinha in the bench for delivering justice following the allegations, SC Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam said in the statement.
Earlier in a meeting with the justices, President Abdul Hamid on September 30 handed over the documents of the allegations against the CJ to the judges, the statement said.
The apex court issued the statement this afternoon, a day after Justice Sinha flew to Australia on leave on health ground.
Before leaving Dhaka last night, Sinha said he was not sick as he left the country for Australia, contradicting the government's claim that he went on leave on health grounds earlier this month.
He briefly spoke to the reporters in front of his official residence at Kakrail and handed them a signed statement, typed in Bangla, before heading to the airport.
"I'm not sick. I'm not fleeing. I'll come back. I'm a little embarrassed. I'm the guardian of the judiciary. I'm leaving for a brief period in the interest of the judiciary, and so that the judiciary is not polluted," the CJ told reporters.
However, the SC statement signed by its Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam stated, “This written statement (of Sinha) is misleading."
The SC statement read Justice Md. Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider held a long discussion with the president on September 30, BSS adds.
"At one stage, the honorable president handed over to them the evidences of 11 specific allegations against Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha," it said adding that the allegations included some grave charges like money laundering, financial irregularities, corruption and moral lapses.
According to the statement on Justice Imman Ali's return home the five Appellate Division judges held a meeting on October 1 and reviewed the 11 allegations and decided to discuss with Sinha over the issue.
"(They decided) if he (Sinha) fails to give any satisfactory explanation or reply to the allegations it will not be possible on their part to sit with him in the bench to deliver justice," it read.
The five judges, it said, then met the chief justice at his official residence on the same day fixing an appointment and held a detailed discussion with him regarding the allegations.
"But despite long discussion the five judges of Appellate Division didn't get any acceptable explanation or reply from him and so all of them clearly conveyed tom him that until the disposal of those charges it will not be possible for them to share the bench with him to deliver justice," it read.
At this stage, the statement said, Sinha clearly said that in that case, "he will resign" but he would let them know about his final decision the next day on October 2, 2017.
"(But) on October 2, 2017, without informing anything to those aforesaid judges, he filed an application to the honorable president seeking one month leave and the president subsequently approved it," the statement said.
Simultaneously, it said, in line with the Article 97 of the constitution the president entrusted senior most judge of the Appellate Division Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah with the responsibility of discharging as the chief justice in the absence of Justice Sinha.
"It is to be noted, the post of chief justice is an institution. No statement was issued earlier from the Supreme Court for the sake of upholding the dignity of this post and the judiciary. But this statement has been issued in the context of emerging circumstances as ordered (by the apex court," the statement read.