The High Court yesterday fined a former district and sessions judge Tk 5,000 for not providing an HC judge with protocol in 2003.
The court said the judges of Supreme Court's Appellate and High Court divisions must get the protocol the state ministers get.
It also ordered Md Firoz Alam, the then district and sessions judge in Feni, to deposit the fine with the government treasury within 15 days for committing contempt of court by not giving protocol to then HC justice Syed Amirul Islam in October that year.
Judge Firoz will have to serve in jail for seven days if he fails to pay the fine within the stipulated time after receiving the verdict copy, the court said.
It also issued four directives for ensuring and providing proper protocol to the visiting SC judges and also ordered the SC registrar general and the law secretary to issue a circular to this effect for all district and sessions judges in the country.
The HC bench of Justice Obaidul Hassan and Justice SM Kuddus Zaman came up with the verdict after hearing a suo moto contempt of court rule issued by another HC bench in 2003.
This is the first time that the HC delivered a verdict over SC judges' protocol, court sources said.
Justice Amirul reached Feni by train at 2:00pm on October 22 in 2003 for a visit.
He was supposed to leave Feni on October 24. But left the district on October 23, as none of the Feni judgeship received or communicated him or gave him protocol although judge Firoz had been officially informed about his visit, the judgment mentioned.
Justice Amirul faced many difficulties staying in the district and arranging return train ticket and felt insulted at the “arrogant behaviour” on the part of judge Firoz and his office, the HC verdict said.
As per the warrant of precedence of the republic, the district and sessions judge, deputy commissioner and superintendent of police are supposed to provide protocol to a judge of the Appellate Division or the HC Division of the SC when they go outside Dhaka, Deputy Attorney General Rafi Ahmed told The Daily Star.
A few days after the incident, the HC issued a suo moto contempt of court rule against judge Firoz, now retired, Yar Ahmed, then Nazir of District and Sessions Judge's Court in Feni, and Altaf Hossain, the then Nayeb Nazir of the same court.
Yesterday, the HC directed that when an SC judge would visit any district headquarters on holidays, at least one judicial officer holding the status of a district and sessions judge or additional district and sessions judge would receive the judge at the circuit house or any other place of the visiting judge's staying in a district town.
If the district judge is present in district headquarters, he must pay a courtesy call on the SC judge, it said.
If the SC judge's visit happens during office time or during weekdays, the judge in charge, Nejarat, will receive the visiting SC judge. But after court hours, the district judge or in the absence of his or her at least one judicial officer having the status of district judge or additional district judge will pay a courtesy call on the visiting SC Judge at the place of his staying within the district town.
If the visiting SC judge stays at an upazila town or in any village, the judge in charge, Nejarat, or a senior staff of the judgeship shall receive him.
At the time of departure of the SC judge from the visiting place, district and sessions judge or additional district and sessions judge must be present along with deputy commissioner or his representative and police superintendent or his representative of the respective district, the HC said.
The HC exonerated Yar Ahmed and Altaf Hossain from the contempt of court rule.
The HC observed that everyone responsible for providing protocol to the VIPs -- particularly the district and sessions judge, deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of the respective district -- should keep in mind that the SC judges are high-ranking VIPs of the country.
“As per the Warrant of Precedence, 1986, the judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh rank in serial No.8 i.e. equivalent to the state ministers and the judges of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh are in serial No.9, they enjoy the status of the state ministers.
“Thus, it is expected from all concerned that the protocol provided to the state ministers must be provided to the judges of the Supreme Court (both divisions).”
The HC said nobody should forget that a SC judge is not a mere individual. “He is the judge of the highest judiciary of the country. He carries a constitutional entity and grace of the highest judicial forum ….”
“Showing deliberate disregard to any of SC judges by act, conduct or omission thus indisputably is a conscious blow to it which impacts adversely on public perception,” the HC added.