Bangladesh: Tainted Judiciary

Bangladesh Supreme Court

M A Hossain       24/4/2018

Britain is the oldest democracy, while the United State is one of the finest democracies in the world. Democratic systems also prevail in most of the European nations as well as that of the Australian continent. In Asia, we can see strong democracies in Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia etcetera. None of these nations ever proclaim their judiciary to be neutral; because, there is no controversy centering neutrality of their judiciaries. They understand – the key element of real democracy is an unbiased judiciary.

In every country in the world, autocracies, especially those autocracies under the garb of democracy would turn the judiciary into their purpose-serving elements. They not only would rot the system but would transform a powerful and neutral judiciary into Kangaroo Courts. By doing so, they would establish the rule of jungle instead of the rule of law. Although such tendencies and actions ultimately turn to be counter-productive; but the excessive greed of capturing power by hook or by crook very certainly vapors the minimum level of morality in the autocrats, and they become not only power-greedy monsters, but also lack minimum level of human qualities.

In the authoritarian, Communist and Socialist rules, judiciaries not only become undignified but also turns into mere pimps (if not slaves) of the ruling elites. Under such rules, judges do not enjoy respect and esteem in the society. Instead, they slip into the status of mere pick-pockets as well as rascals of the highest order.

But there is an exception, and most possibly the only exception. Pakistan, since its independence in 1947 though had witnessed many ups and downs; and had gone under the harsh military rule for sometimes – no one even touched the judiciary or had attempted in rotting its image. Most possibly it has been possible because of the highest degree of self-respect and dignity of the Pakistani judges and the members of the judicial system. They didn’t aspire to sacrifice their pride and honor for getting any undue favours from the ruling elites. Members of the Pakistani judicial system are not the purpose- serving thugs of any political parties or regimes.

It always is a matter of greatest shame and dismay when a judge, including those in the apex courts, is publicly exposed as activists and even thuggish cadres of any political party. A politically motivated or biased individual can never become a responsible, sensible and respectable judge or member of the judiciary anywhere in the world. But of course, there are several shameless creatures on this earth, who very proudly occupy the respective seats in the judiciary by wearing a political badge. We only can compare them with dirty street hookers or member of female trafficking rackets. Maybe even worst! Most definitely, these people are of lowest mentality and no self-esteem.

We may have our arguments to differ, but ever since the publication of the study report by German-based think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung; the current government in Bangladesh are being repeatedly referred as an autocracy. Almost every day, opinion editorials and commentaries are being published in the international news outlets claiming – there is no rule of law in Bangladesh, and the country has gone into the ‘tight grips’ of a ‘cruel dictatorship.’ Such campaigns are unfortunately continuing unprotested and even unaddressed from the Bangladesh side; which ultimately is giving authenticity and credence to such claims. Most alarming part is, the arguments and references being made in this materials are powerful and it even can put a regular reader into either confusions or helpless endorsers of the facts.
There are two major points prominently placed into those materials – the confrontation between the judiciary and the President; and ‘cold war’ between the judiciary and the Armed Forces. Moreover, these materials are questioning the very integrity of the entire judicial system, including the apex courts on the issue of its silence on forced disappearances and extrajudicial and judicial killings. By using the terminology of judicial killing, they are portraying our judiciaries (including the apex courts) as an abettor of forced disappearances and secret killings. These materials are such strong in reasons and arguments (even specific evidence) that it even had put me into serious confusions. Let me cite here few of their arguments :

Justice Khairul Haque controversy:

It says, Chief Justice Khairul Haque, instead of performing neutrality had exposedly performed as a party cadre of Bangladesh Awami League in exchange of financial benefits; and had made amendments in the constitution as per the desire of the ruling elites. Justice Khairul Haque’s partisan behavior has put Bangladesh’s democracy into jeopardy as he abruptly had trashed the provision of caretaker government during the general election. Since the restoration of democracy from the previous autocracies in 1990, the election- time caretaker government system had, by and large, been proved extremely effective in Bangladesh. But, the ruling Bangladesh Awami league wanted to drop this provisions from the constitution with the ulterior desire of remaining in power indefinitely. In Justice Khairul Haque, they found the best purpose serving man required to execute this dishonest desire of the ruling elites. By doing so, Justice Khairul Haque had seriously tarnished the image of the apex judiciary in general and the position of Chief Justice in particular.

Journo couple Sagar- Runi murder investigation :

Although journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Meherun Runi were slaughtered in 2012 at their residence in Dhaka, none of the investigation agencies had been able to unearth the mystery during past six-plus years. Each time, the investigating agencies are seeking time and the apex court ‘very graciously’ are granting their time petitions. It had been rumored that the couple was investigating multi-billion dollar corruption in the energy sector (including the quick rental power plants), and there had been hands of some extremely influential quarters in the government behind this murder.

Ruling party MP Bodi- Rana bail controversy:

A notorious drug baron and proven culprit from Coxsbazar, Abdur Rahman Bodi, also a ruling party lawmaker, was arrested on corruption charges and even convicted by the court. But this man had no problem in getting released on bail just within weeks. While on the other hand, another ruling party MP Amanur Rahman Khan Rana from Tangail constituency was arrested in a ‘murder case,’ several months back. A media offensive continued against him mostly in anti-Awami League newspapers; As he is a sitting MP, President Abdul Hamid is sending letters to Rana asking him to join the parliament sessions. Accordingly, he has been seeking bail to join the parliament session as well as sending letters to speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury seeking her cooperation In attending the parliament as per the directives of the President. The apex court is not showing any head to this popular leader and law maker’s pleas, while the unelected MP turned Speaker Dr. Shirin is not having the moral courage of even touching the letter from Amanur Rahman Khan Rana, MP (elected with huge differences) as she has been instructed by her ‘boss’ of ignoring any such letters of Mr. Rana. People may raise questions as to who holds the remote control of this unelected Speaker and why in the world, Bangladesh had to plant a novice and an unelected person into the position of Speaker. Was that a kind of undue favour? If so, then what makes Dr. Shirin such lucky?

When the apex court had no problem (in fact also no shame) in freeing a notorious drug baron, a culprit and a corrupt like Abdur Rahman Bodi on bail, what stops than in granting bail to a popular leader and a sitting lawmaker Amanur Rahman Khan Rana? Bodi not only is a drug mafia but also a corrupt individual, and unfortunately, Bangladesh has gone into the ‘feather’ of being ‘corrupt’ had made a much-desired darling of the corruption-plagued ruling elites. Or is it because the apex courts in Bangladesh to consider the 10th parliament as a mere rubber-stamp parliament like those autocratic and authoritarian nations; if so, then by refusing bail to MP Rana, the apex court has also exposed the current parliament as a mockery thus holding it as illegitimate. Of course, any member of an illegitimate parliament does not deserve any legal protection. At the same time, apex court’s decision has turned Sheikh Hasina and her government as illegal.

January 2014 voter less election controversy:

Entire world but Russia, China, and India had rejected the voter less 2014 general election in Bangladesh, where 153 MPs were elected unopposed. A similar incident took place in 1973. Too much for any country proclaiming to be a democracy. Should such things ever happen even in Pakistan, the apex court would have issued suo- moto rule (as they did in case of Panama Paper scandal and unseated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) and would have declared the election null and void and directed the parties concerned to go for a fresh election participated by all the parties. But in case of Bangladesh, the apex court did not have any such guts; because it lacks morality and dignity.

Narayangonj 7- murder verdict:

Former Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha out of his grudge against the Bangladesh Armed Forces (as because, he not only is a corrupt and a man of moral turpitude; but also is a proven collaborator of the anti-liberation forces) had put all of his enthusiasms and energy in quickly upholding the wrong verdict of a lower court awarding death penalty to three patriotic officers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. Justice Sinha had got his desire accomplished by a loyal bench in the high court division. By wrongly convicting these army personals and even upholding the wrong judgment in the apex court – Bangladesh judiciary had created a solid document proving, members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces as contract killers, abductors, culprits, extortionist, criminals and what not! If these patriotic soldiers have to face the gallows because of obeying the order of their senior officials, in future, for sure, dozens of officers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces will embrace the same fate as they had to execute orders from the top brasses in forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

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