B`desh: Judiciary, executive on collision course

Bangladesh`s lawmakers are demanding removal of a top judge after he blasted the Parliament speaker for being ignorant about Constitution.

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s executive appears headed for a row with the judiciary, as lawmakers are demanding removal of a top judge after he blasted the Parliament speaker for being "completely ignorant" about the Constitution.

The Parliament yesterday demanded "unconditional apology" from the Supreme Court for making "insinuations and casting aspersions" on Speaker Abdul Hamid.

It also demanded, from the President, the return of the house`s authority to remove judges, hours after a High Court bench said the speaker had provoked people against the apex court.

"It won`t be wise for the nation to retain this judge (Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik) for a single moment," senior parliamentarian and minister without portfolio Suranjit Sengupta said, as an unscheduled debate sparked off over Manik`s comments.

Angry lawmakers demanded Manik`s removal through the Supreme Judicial Council headed by the Chief Justice in the next three days and warned that Parliament would otherwise take back its original authority of impeaching him by amending the existing laws.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was seen leaving the house as the debate started and Hamid too was not present while deputy speaker Shawkat Ali, who chaired the session, said he would decide on the demand in consultation with the speaker.

Judge Manik yesterday sharply criticised Hamid saying "it was utter ignorance of the Speaker about the Supreme Court and the Constitution and a total abuse of parliamentary privilege" and also doubted his qualification for commenting on a matter pending for trial before the High Court.

"The Speaker is completely ignorant about the SC and the Constitution," said an apparently angry Manik, while several senior lawyers, some of them being lawmakers, tried to ease the situation.

The conflict began as the court earlier ordered removal of the office of the state-run Roads and Highways Department within 15 days as it was housed on the Supreme Court land for decades, denying prayers for allocation of more time for the relocation of the huge government structure.

The speaker on May 29 told the House that the courts were neutral and independent, but "it looks odd when they take quick decisions to solve their own problems while people have to wait years for justice".

Hamid, himself a lawyer by profession, said he wanted to ask the law minister to intervene into the matter so the R&H department got enough time for smooth relocation.

But, Manik yesterday said: "We are infuriated, dismayed and amassed over the speaker`s comments... The law minister would have felt ashamed if he had been in the country".

"The Speaker did not know that the Law Minister had no power to take any measure against the judges of the apex court and this court was not controlled by the minister," he said.


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