Appellate Division judge Syed Mahmud Hossain was appointed chief justice on Friday while his senior colleague justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah resigned purportedly for being superseded.
‘My father submitted his resignation letter to the president at about 7:15pm citing unavoidable personal ground,’ Mohibullah Tanvir, son of Justice Abdul Wahhab, told New Age on Friday.
Mohibullah, also a Supreme Court lawyer, said that the president’s office received the letter of resignation submitted through Justice Wahhab’s personal assistant Abdul Kashem.
Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah was due for retirement on November 11 this year.
Lawyers observed that his retirement created a vacuum in the highest position of the judiciary since he was performing the function of chief justice.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam, however, finds no vacuum as the newly appointed chief justice is due to be sworn in today.
Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, the next most senior to Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah, is scheduled for December 31, 2021 to retire.
President Md Abdul Hamid singed the appointment at about 2:15pm, president’s press secretary Joynal Abedin told New Age.
Joynal said that the president would administer the oath of office to the 22nd
chief justice of Bangladesh, Syed Mahmud Hossain, at Bangabhaban at 7:00pm today.
Law secretary ASSM Zahirul Haque acknowledged receiving a letter from the president’s office regarding the chief justice’s appointment in the afternoon.
Justice Mahmud’s appointment came 82 days after his predecessor Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha resigned from Singapore ending his 39 days ‘sick leave’ on November 10, 2017.
Justice SK Sinha was scheduled to retire on January 31, 2018.
On October 3, 2017, the president asked Justice Wahhab Miah to perform the functions of the office of chief justice during Justice SK Sinha’s absence.
On Friday, Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah went to the office in the Supreme Court about 10:30am, left about 1:00pm and took some necessary documents to his house, according to officials at the Supreme Court registrar general’s office.
The officials said that Justice Abdul Wahhab signed verdicts in some cases he pronounced earlier and handed over the documents of the verdicts he was yet to complete writing to acting Supreme Court registrar general Md Zakir Hossain.
They quoted Justice Abdul Wahhab as saying he would no more sit in the bench.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Zainul Abedin said that an emergency meeting of the bar would be convened today to decide if the bar association would extend its traditional felicitations to the newly appointed chief justice.
Zainul Abedin, however, said that the challenge of the new chief justice would be to restore judiciary’s image tainted by the government by the unprecedented way of removal of Justice SK Sinha.
Jurist Shahdeen Malik said that the expectation of the bar association was that Justice Abdul Wahhab would be the chief justice.
‘It is not totally exceptional and unexpected as there have been instances of supersession in the past,’ he said.
Shahdeen said that Justice Wahhab had shared with the bar members that he would resign if he was superseded.
He urged the government to enact a law as per the constitution for the appointment of the Supreme Court judges.
Shahdeen expects that the new chief justice will create a mechanism for making collective decision instead of making all the decision by himself.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam called the new chief justice as ‘honest and skilled’.
Juastice Syed Mahmud Hossain was appointed deputy attorney general in December 1999 and additional High Court judge in February 2001 during the Awami League government.
His service as a High Court judge was regularised on February 22, 2003 during Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government.
He was alleviated to the Appellate Division on February 23, 2011 during the AL-led alliance government.
Justice Mahmud Hossain was born in Comilla. He is the son-in-law of the country’s first inspector general of police and former home secretary late Abdul Khaleque, a member of Mukti Bahini.