Seemingly emboldened by prime minister's remarks about Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Monday, ruling Awami League leaders are now demanding the CJ's resignation.
Ever since the Supreme Court released its full verdict on the 16th amendment early this month, party leaders have been demanding that the CJ expunge some of his observations. And the party's position was to file a review petition to this effect.
But after AL President Sheikh Hasina said the chief justice should have resigned before making any comment on the election process of the women lawmakers or after delivering the verdict, her party colleagues are now following suit.
Yesterday, AL leaders Hasan Mahmud, ABM Reazul Kabir Kawsar and Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said that Sinha must go.
Passed in 2014, the 16th amendment to the constitution had restored parliament's powers to remove SC judges for misconduct or incapacity. Last year, the High Court declared the amendment illegal and the decision was upheld by the SC on July 3 this year. The full verdict came on August 1.
Archrivals AL and BNP took no time to react -- the former slamming parts of it while the latter praising it.
Food Minister Qamrul Islam was the first AL leader to publicly demand the CJ's removal at a programme organised by Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibi Parishad, a pro-AL lawyers' association, in the capital on August 10.
“The chief justice threatened Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by citing the reference of a Pakistan court order that disqualified their Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. By doing this, the chief justice has violated his oath. Therefore he has to resign from office," said Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, member secretary of Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibi Parishad, yesterday.
Otherwise, he threatened, they would wage a movement from October.
Taposh was addressing a meeting organised by the Parishad on the Supreme Court Bar Association premises to discuss the 16th amendment verdict. Parishad Convener Yusuf Hossain Humayun, SM Rezaul Karim, Nurul Islam Sujon MP and Rabiul Alam Budu also spoke.
Sources in the AL said the party would mount pressure on the CJ so he “thinks twice” before making any comment about the government. Besides, the party will now highlight the CJ's remark comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan. Party leaders believe that this way they can mobilise public opinion against the CJ, whose tenure officially ends in January next year.
Besides, the party will raise voice against Justice Sinha in the upcoming parliament session that begins on September 10.
On Monday, Hasina blasted the chief justice “for comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan” and said, "This is very disgraceful that Bangladesh has been compared with Pakistan. This is not tolerable at all."
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, a central committee member of the AL said, "We will put pressure on the chief justice.”
The party will now hammer on this Bangladesh-Pakistan comparison, an emotional issue since the 1971 Liberation War, because people will support the AL on this, added the leader, asking not to be named.
During the hearing of Masdar Hossain case, also known as judiciary separation case, the CJ on Sunday said the Pakistan Supreme Court recently disqualified the prime minister, but there was no fuss.
The AL is also waiting to see what the president does on the matter as Hasina met him on August 16 to convey him the government as well as the party's stance on the verdict.
At a human chain in Chittagong yesterday, AL Publicity Affairs Secretary Hasan Mahmud called on the CJ to resign for “breaking his oath” and “violating the constitution”.
Chittagong (north) district Chhatra League and Bangabandhu Sainik League jointly formed the human chain in front of Chittagong Press Club to demand Sinha's resignation.
ABM Reazul Kabir Kawsar, a member of the AL central working committee, took to the Facebook to demand CJ's resignation yesterday.
The AL has, meanwhile, alleged that the BNP was conspiring to create a division between the executive and the judiciary through “falsehood”.
“The BNP is misinterpreting Sheikh Hasina's statements and misleading the nation by spreading false information,” said Obaidul Quader, general secretary of the party, at its Dhanmondi office yesterday.
“Our leader Awami League president did not make any statement against judiciary for a single time,” he added.