Chief justice SK Sinha said that he was fully in sound health and worried about the independence of the judiciary as he left Dhaka for Australia late Friday night.
He made the comments in a brief statement he handed over to waiting reporters in front of his official residence at about 10:00pm, when he was going to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, from where he flied for Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight at midnight.
‘He left Dhaka at 12:00,’ said immigration police officer-in-charge inspector Abdul Jabbar.
Justice Sinha left Dhaka alone, he added.
Earlier on October 5 he along with his spouse obtained long-term Australian visas after he reportedly went on a 30-day ‘sick leave’ on October 3.
His wife Sushma Sinha, Supreme Court registrar general Syed Aminul Islam, High Court Division deputy registrar Sabbir Faiz and chief justice’s personal secretary Mohammad Anishur Rahman saw Justice Sinha off at the airport.
While leaving the residence for the airport, Justice Sinha told waiting reporters that he was going abroad for the time being and would return shortly. And, he left for the airport handing over the written statement to the reporters.
‘I am fully in sound health. But I am really embarrassed over the criticism
against me by a political quarter, lawyers and especially a few honourable ministers and the honourable prime minister on a verdict,’ he said in the statement.
He believed that the prime minister was in a huff as a quarter within the government the verdict misinterpreting it and he expressed hope that the situation would improve soon.
‘I am also a little bit worried about the independence of the judiciary,’ read the statement.
It stated that the law minister on Thursday said that the most senior Supreme Court judge performing the functions of the chief justice would reshuffle the Supreme Court administration soon.
‘There is no custom of interfering with the administration of the chief justice by a judge performing the functions of the chief justice or by the government,’ the statement read, adding that the acting chief justice would carry out only the routine works.
Any interference with the administration of the chief justice would tantamount to the interference with the Supreme Court and that would further deteriorate the relations between the judiciary and the government, Justice Sinha said, adding that it would bring no good for the state.
A gazette notification on Thursday announced that Appellate Division’s most senior judge Md Abdul Wahhab Miah would perform the functions of the chief justice until the return or rejoining of Justice Sinha.
Earlier on October 2, by another gazette notification, the president assigned the functions of the chief justice to Justice Wahhab Miah.
On October 10, chief justice’s personal secretary Mohammad Anishur Rahman informed the president in a letter that Justice Sinha would travel abroad on October 13 or the nearest possible date and return on November 10 or the nearest possible date.
He also said that Justice Sinha would travel to Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada during his stay abroad.
In August, lawyers toeing ruling Awami League’s political line held countrywide demonstrations demanding that observations Justice Sinha made in the judgement in the 16th amendment case be expunged.
The verdict, which was written by the justice SK Sinha, had scrapped the 16th amendment to the constitution empowering the parliament to remove Supreme Court for misbehaviour and incapacity.
The full verdict was released on August 1.
Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibi Parishad, a platform of pro-Awami League lawyers, demanded that the chief justice should immediately expunge the observations relating to the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman saying that the remarks had undermined Mujib’s leadership in the Liberation War.
The AL lawyers later demanded resignation of the chief justice unless he expunged the observation.
Earlier, prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, censured the chief justice and asked the party leaders to criticise the verdict.
On September 13, Jatiya Sangsad unanimously resolved that appropriate legal steps be taken for the cancellation the declaration of the 16th amendment to constitution as ‘ultra vires’ and unconstitutional, objectionable and irrelevant observations made by the chief justice about parliament and other important issues in the verdict in the 16th amendment case.
Lawyers toeing BNP’s political line, however, supported the apex court’s unanimous verdict and the observations and blasted the government and the ruling AL for making ‘contemptuous statements’ against the Appellate Division.
The chief justice and the government were at loggerheads for long over publishing Supreme Court-drafted disciplinary rules for lower court judges in official gazette.
SK Sinha assumed office on January 17, 2015 as the country’s 21st chief justice. His retirement is scheduled for January 31, 2018.
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