Defending the government’s much-talked-about move to have the 16th constitution amendment bill passed, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Suranjit Sengupta on Tuesday said the bill is aimed at empowering parliament to “remove judges, not to impeach them”.
“Confusion has arisen whether it’s impeachment or removal. There’s nothing of impeachment…there’re only two words — ‘resignation’ or ‘removal’ of Supreme Court judges,” he said while briefing reporters over the bill that triggered severe criticisms by various quarters, including BNP.
Suranjit further said, “The constitution amendment bill has been placed in parliament not to impeach rather remove Supreme Court Judges in case of proved misconduct and incapacity.”
The Awami League leader briefed the journalists at the Media Centre of Jatiya Sangsad after a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee that scrutinised the Constitution (Sixteen Amendment) Bill 2014.
He also claimed that a vested quarter is out there spearing propaganda with an ulterior motive talking about impeachment.
In article 96 of the proposed constitutional amendment bill said that a judge shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed in pursuant to a resolution of Parliament by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of Parliament, on the ground of proved misconduct or incapacity.
The Awami League MP said the word ‘impeachment’ is only applicable for removal of President from office in case of violation of the Constitution or any grave misconduct.
He alleged that vested quarters, including some responsible seasoned leaders, are now misleading people saying that the government has brought the bill to control the higher court and snatch its power. “I hope, after today’s briefing, there’ll be no more confusion in this regard.”
Suranjit said the government wants to protect the judiciary from those who will engage in misconduct or will turn incapable in rendering their services.
The government wants to make the Supreme Court credible, he claimed.
The follow-up law is needed to form an inquiry committee to prove the misconduct and incapacity of the judge. Otherwise, the proposed provision regarding the SC judges cannot be exercised, Suranjit added.
“It’s not true that Parliament is going to take the whole power under its grip. Two-thirds majority of Parliament will just approve the decision following report of an inquiry committee. Then it’ll be the matter of the President whether he’ll remove the judge or not,” he said.
Pointing at the proposed 96 article, the AL leader said there was a similar provision in the constitution from 1972 to 1975, but no SC judge was removed or forced to quit during the period. “Even the Supreme Judicial Council removed only one judge.”
The provision will hardly be excised like in 1972-75, he opined.
The veteran parliamentarian said the standing committee will also sit in another meeting on Wednesday to scrutinise the bill as it will have to place a report within a few days.
On Sunday, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq placed the bill that was sent to the parliamentary committee asking it to submit its report within one week.