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16th Amendment: SC appoints 12 lawyers as amicus curiae

The Appellate Division on Wednesday appointed 12 senior lawyers as amicus curiae to advise the court to dispose of an appeal filed against a High Court (HC) order that declared illegal the 16th amendment to the Constitution establishing Parliament’s power to remove Supreme Court judges.
An eight-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), led by Chief Justice SK Sinha, announced the names of the 12 prominent lawyers.

They are former Justice TH Khan, Dr Kamal Hossain, Barrister M Amir-ul Islam, Barrister Rafiqul Haque, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, former Attorney General AJ Mohammad Ali, Barrister Fida M Kamal, Barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC, ex-Law Minister Barrister Shafiq Ahmed, former Attorney General AF Hasan Arif, and senior advocates MI Farooki and Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan.

The apex court also fixed March 7 for hearing of the appeal.

The court also asked both the petitioners and the state to submit written arguments over the matter before March 7.

On September 17, 2014, the Jatiya Sangsad passed the ‘Constitution (16th Amendment) Bill, 2014′ without any opposition, empowering Parliament to impeach judges of the Supreme Court for their incapacity or misconduct.

Nine Supreme Court lawyers filed a writ petition with the High Court on November 5, 2014, praying for considering the 16th Amendment as illegal and unconstitutional.

The petition also sought an order staying the operation of the 16th Amendment and also against enacting any law in a bid to remove the Supreme Court judges, as per this amendment, until disposal of the rule.

Hearing on the rule began on May 21, 2015, when four eminent lawyers — Dr Kamal Hossain, Barrister M Amir-Ul Islam, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud and Barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC –made their depositions to the court as Amicus Curiae.

After primary hearing, the HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal issued a rule asking the government to explain why the amendment should not be declared illegal and contrary to the constitution.

On May 5, 2016, the three-member special HC bench, headed by Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury, passed the majority verdict following a writ petition.

Justice Moyeenul Islam and Justice Qazi Raza-Ul Hoque gave their judgment in favour of declaring the 16th amendment illegal.

On March10 last, the court said the amendment is contrary to the provisions enshrined in the constitution for the freedom of the judiciary.

It said the provision to remove judges by parliament is an accident in the history although the law exists in several countries of the world.

In most of the Commonwealth countries, judges are not removed by parliaments. Noting that parliament members cannot go against the party decision as per the section 70 of the Constitution and they have to vote in favour of the party even if they do not approve of the matter, the court said judges will have to wait for MPs’ mercy if the 16th amendment remains in force.

Source: Daily Sun, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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