Amid a raging row with the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today slammed Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha for comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan and accused him of “humiliating” the country. Sinha, the first Hindu apex court chief justice in this Muslim-majority country, yesterday said that the judiciary has been very patient and referred to the removal of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the country’s apex court.
“We are being very, very patient. The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the prime minister. Was there any criticism over it? No,” Sinha told an open court hearing. Commenting on Sinha’s remarks, Hasina said this cannot be accepted that a Pakistan court removed their premier through a verdict and that will be used as a threat in Bangladesh. “He should have quit…The most humiliating thing is the comparison with Pakistan which is intolerable,” Hasina said, without mentioning Chief Justice Sinha’s name.
“There would be no benefit in giving me such a threat (of removal),” she said, asserting that she is not scared at all. “People’s court is the biggest court; no one can ignore people’s court…I’m lodging my complaint with this court… I want justice from the court of people,” she said.
A number of senior government leaders virtually attacked the chief justice over a recent verdict declaring void 16th constitutional amendment scrapping parliament’s authority in impeaching Supreme Court judges. The government is reviewing the judgment to overturn it for being “unacceptable”. Hasina said the apex court defamed the parliament and attempted to snatch the presidential authority.
“When you (chief justice) make criticism in this regard, then you will have to accept other…so you should have stepped down before making such a comment,” she said. Opposition party outside parliament BNP of ex-premier Khaleda Zia backed Sinha, saying the government was trying to control the higher judiciary by launching a vigorous campaign against the apex court judgment.
The row emerged in May when the apex court first refused to accept a government formulated code of conduct for lower judiciary judges, saying it undermined the Supreme Court in regulating them. Bangladesh’s original 1972 Constitution had empowered parliament to remove Supreme Court judges but a 1975 amendment entrusted the President with the authority.
In a subsequent amendment in 1978, when a military regime was in power, the authority was bestowed on Supreme Judicial Council, comprising apex court judges.