SC restrains 3 HC judges from duties as they face probe

Dhaka, Aug 21 – The Supreme Court authority has ordered the three judges of the High Court Division to refrain from performing their duties following a primary investigation against them on allegation of ‘corruption and misconduct.’ After consulting with the President about the primary investigation against the three judges, chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain asked them to refrain from conducting judicial activities, Supreme Court sources said.
The judges are: Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury, Justice Quazi Reza-ul-Hoque and Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque. The names of the three judges were not mentioned in the cause list of Supreme Court and remained absent from their respective benches yesterday.
Supreme Court administration in a statement under signed by Md Saifur Rahman, special officer of the Supreme Court, said that following a primary investigation, the Supreme Court authorities after consulting with the President informed three honorable judges of the High Court Division about the decision to refrain them from conducting judicial activities. Later, they submitted leave applications, the statement said.
In 2017, five Supreme Court (SC) judges expressed their dissent to sit at the same bench with the then chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha as he failed to give any satisfactory clarification over the 11 allegations of corruption against him. After that the then chief justice had to go on leave and finally he resigned from his post. Currently, the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating a money laundering case filed against SK Sinha and 10 others.
Talking to the reporters, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain has taken the decision to restrain the three HC judges from their duties after consulting with the president and all Appellate Division judges.
The lawyers demanded the chief justice since long to free the judiciary from stigma in order to upholding its image and dignity, he said adding: “Now, the chief justice after consulting with the President will take decision on how he would initiate the investigation against them.”
“The chief justice’s decision is a massage for those who were not staying in transparent way. No one is above the law. Minister, Justice and common people are not above the law,” he noted.
In responding to a query, the chief law officer of the state said that the allegations would become clear to all after completing the investigation. I think the content of the investigation should not disclose before the public at this stage, he noted.
In responding to another query on who will conduct investigation against them as the Supreme Judicial Council does not exist following the government review petition against the apex court verdict on 16th amendment to the constitution, the attorney general said that the chief justice would take decision after consulting with the President.
The President and the chief justice can take necessary decision to uphold the image and dignity of the judiciary, he explained.
At a press briefing, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) secretary Barrister Mahbub Uddin Kokon, welcomed the chief justice for taking decision.
He also urged the chief justice to initiate investigation against all other judges who were involved in committing gross misconduct.
The SCBA secretary claimed that not only three justices but there were also severe allegations against many other judges.
Earlier on May 16, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court expressed grave concerns over an ‘unprecedented order’ issued by a High Court bench relating to a civil case.
A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain expressed the concerns while Attorney General (AG) Mahbubey Alam was taking part in a hearing on a civil case between National Bank Limited and others versus MR Trading and others.
The attorney general raised complaints against a High Court bench comprising Justice Salma Masud Chowhdury and Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque for issuing an order to an ‘Artha Rin Adalat’ to issue a decree in line with an HC directive, which the AG termed “illegal and beyond its jurisdiction.”
After raising the allegation, the chief law officer of the state requested the chief justice to send the allegations against the HC bench to the president for taking next course of action in accordance with the law.
The HC bench had ordered the Artha Rin Adalat to issue a decree as per HC directives in a case filed by the National Bank. The Supreme Court criticised the HC bench for giving such an order to the Artho Rin Adalat for passing a decree.
Besides, there were allegations against Justice Quazi Reza-ul-Hoque for his alleged involvement in graft dealing. – Staff Reporter