Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has termed as "totally unethical" a Supreme Court verdict elevating the status of the chief justice and judicial officers and said it could create disorder within the state organs.
"I will say that delivering such judgement is totally out of ethics," she told Parliament last night, weeks after the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court issued a verdict on Warrant of Precedence, equalising the statuses of the Chief Justice with parliamentary Speaker and the district judges with secretaries to the government.
The Premier added: "It (verdict) surprises me...The Constitution specifies who will be in what position. It's not fair if someone determines his or her own status and gives verdict in his or her favour. Then it becomes a partisan role." ? ??
A visibly annoyed Hasina said "the Supreme Court should have seen systems of different countries and considered the issue of coordination and cooperation among different organs of the state so the nation could run smoothly."
Hasina told the the House that discussion are underway between the law and the officials in the judiciary to resolve the situation arose out after the apex court's verdict.
The Premier's comments in Parliament came when the apex court was yet to release the full text of its January 11 verdict which disposed of an appeal against a 2010 High Court judgement on the existing warrant of precedence, a list that specifies the ceremonial status of people in different organs of the state.
The apex court in its brief order said it was issuing the judgement with modification of the High Court verdict that had declared illegal and void the existing Warrant of Precedence formulated in 1986 and revised in 2008.
Under the judgement, the status of the judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court will be equal to that of cabinet ministers while the positions of the High Court Division judges and state ministers will be same.
Members of Parliament will be given precedence over the cabinet secretary, chiefs of the armed forces and principal secretary.
The Appellate Division verdict also ordered the placement of the attorney general or the top law officer of the state above the cabinet secretary, who is regarded as the country's top bureaucrat.
A junior judge in 2006 had filed a petition in the High Court seeking revision of the order claiming that the Cabinet Division had framed the existing Warrant of Precedence in 1986 in an arbitrary manner, without evaluating the dignity and status of judicial officials.
The High Court in its February 4, 2010 verdict directed the government to issue a new Warrant of Precedence giving district judges and equivalent judicial officers' precedence over the chiefs of armed forces and government secretaries. The decision had sparked controversy.
The verdict, however, never came into effect as the then cabinet secretary filed an appeal with the apex court which on January 11 came up with the judgement.