The Supreme Court administration in a statement on Saturday termed misleading the statement chief justice SK Sinha issued before leaving Dhaka for Australia on Friday and said that there were 11 specific allegations of money laundering, financial irregularity, corruption and moral turpitude against him.
Supreme Court registrar general Syed Aminul Islam issued the statement a day after he saw Justice SK Sinha off at the airport in Dhaka late Friday night.
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 sick leave came up in the wake of severe criticism of the ruling Awami League leaders, including prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president, over an Appellate Division’s verdict scrapping the 16th amendment to the constitution that empowered parliament to remove Supreme Court judges for misbehaviour or incapacity.
In his statement Justice Sinha handed over to waiting reporters in front of the chief justice’s official residence while leaving for the airport Friday night, he said that he was fully in sound health.
He said that he was really embarrassed over the criticism against him by a political quarter, lawyers and especially a few ministers and the prime minister on one of his verdict.
Justice Sinha also said that he was worried about the independence of the judiciary and differed with the law minister’s remark that the most senior Supreme Court judge performing the functions of the chief justice would reshuffle the Supreme Court administration soon.
In a short briefing, Justice Sinha told journalists that he left the country for a time being for the interest of the judiciary and would return shortly.
The statement of the Supreme Court administration, provided to the media and was also posted on the website of the Supreme Court, termed Justice Sinha’s statement misleading.
As waiting reporters approached Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, now performing the functions of the chief justice, while he was leaving the court premises, he declined to make any comment.
The SC’s statement said, ‘The office of the chief justice is an institution. The Supreme Court did not issue any statement earlier in order to uphold the dignity of the office and the judiciary. But, in the evolved situation, the statement is issued by an order.’
The statement said that the president, Abdul Hamid, on September 30 invited all the Appellate Division judges but Justice Sinha to Bangabhban. Justice Muhammad Imman Ali failed to respond to the president’s invitation as he was abroad.
‘At one state of discussion, the president handed documents of 11 specific allegations of money laundering, financial irregularity, corruption and moral turpitude against Justice Sinha over to the four judges — Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Hassan Foyez Siddiqui, and Justice Mirza Hossain Haider,’ the statement read.
After the return of Justice Imman Ali, five Appellate Division judges analysed the allegations on October 1 and decided to inform Justice Sinha about the allegations.
They resolved that if the chief justice failed to give satisfactory reply to the allegations, it would not be possible for them to sit in court along with him, the statement said.
The five judges at 11:30am on October 1 met the chief justice at his official residence and elaborately discussed the allegations. As there were no acceptable explanations from the chief justice after long discussions, the five judges informed him that it would be impossible for them to sit in the court along with Sinha until the allegations were resolved, said the statement.
At this point, chief justice SK Sinha said that he would resign and inform the judges about his final decision on October 2. But without informing the judges, the Justice Sinha filed an application for one-month leave with the president’s office and the president approved his leave, the statement read.
In the evolved situation, the president as per the Article 97 of the constitution, the president assigned senior most Appellate Division judge Md Abdul Wahhab Miah to perform the functions of the chief justice during the absence of the chief justice, the statement said.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam at a briefing later on Saturday supported that the statement of the Supreme Court administration, saying that it was not possible to raise such allegations against the chief justice if they were not true.
The people should know that there was no government interference with regard to the chief justice’s absence from the court. ‘Rather the chief justice’s colleagues declined to sit in the court with the chief justice after getting evidence of his corruptions from the president,’ he said.
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