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Draft of SC Judges (Investigation) Bill gets cabinet nod


44The Cabinet on Monday approved in principle the draft of ‘The Supreme Court (SC) Judges (Investigation) Bill, 2016’ having provisions to investigate the allegation of ‘misconduct’ by the judges of the High Court and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and impeach them by parliament.


The proposed law has also kept a provision for the ‘honourable exit’ of a judge of the higher court — Appellate Division and High Court Division of the Supreme Court — if he or she is found guilty for his or her ‘misconduct’.


The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.


After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam briefed reporters.


He said the draft law has been placed by the Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division as it was a ‘constitutional obligation’ under section 96(3) of the constitution following its 16th amendment that was made in September, 2014.


In the amendment, he said, sub-sections 2, 3 and 4 of the section 96 were replaced by amending the sub-sections 2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8.


As per the amendment, there is a provision for conducting a probe if any allegation is raised against any judge of the Supreme Court and framing a law to investigate the allegation. “The law has been brought following the constitutional obligation,” he said.


The cabinet secretary said the draft law was approved aimed at reverting to the main law of the original constitution of 1972 to ensure a legislative process regarding removal of the Supreme Court Judges like all other democratic nations around the world.


He said a similar law was in the original constitution of 1972 and it was changed after 1975 incorporating a provision of forming Supreme Judicial Council. Such council does not exist now in any country except Pakistan, he said.


Under the draft law, Alam said, any aggrieved person can submit a written application to the Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad against any judge of the Supreme Court for his or her alleged misconduct.


The Speaker will form a ‘preliminary committee’ with not more than 10 members of Parliament to investigate if there is any justification of allegation while the committee will submit its prima-facie report before the Speaker within seven days.


On valid ground of allegation, the Cabinet Secretary said the Speaker will constitute a three-member independent investigation committee with a former Chief Justice being its head along with an ex-Attorney General and an eminent citizen of the country or a jurist as its members to probe into the allegation.


On completion of the investigation, Alam added, the Jatiya Sangsad will hold a discussion on the report to be submitted by the committee.


The recommendations adopted by the Jatiya Sangsad with two-thirds majority will be sent to the President for his or her signature to remove a judge if he or she is found guilty, he said.


About false and baseless allegation of misconduct against any judge of the Supreme Court, he said, the person concerned will face two years of imprisonment or a fine of maximum  Tk five lakh.


The draft law has been prepared after detailed consultations with stakeholders concerned, including the judges of the Appellate and High Court Divisions, he said adding that still there are scopes to put forward suggestions in the draft law by stakeholders concerned.

After further discussions with the relevant stakeholders, the draft law will again be placed before the cabinet for its final approval, the Cabinet Secretary said, according to a news agency.