OK, there is an example and even that is also very short-lived. It is rather an extreme exception than a rule. The exception is that Justice B A Siddiqui, the then chief Justice, refused to take oath of Tikka Khan. At that time, the momentum in East Pakistan was totally pro Bengali nationalistic and Justice B A Siddiqui had no option but to go with an overwhelming public sentiment. He, however corrected himself pretty quickly. After March 25 crackdown, he speedily conducted the oath of Tikka Khan.
That was the last apparent act of defiance of a judge against the military. Since then throughout the history of Bangladesh, the judges took it as their inherent virtue to be subservient to the Generals.
Every time Generals create a legal-constitutional mess out of their power lust, they brought in a justice to sweep off their mess. The supply of such military boot-licking judges is never-ending in Bangladesh.
In fact the judges are the only professionals in Bangladesh who never stood up against a military dictator in Bangladesh. From the very beginning of military interventions, politicians, fellow military men, students, professionals like physicians, Engineers, bureaucrats— stood up defiant against dictators at some point or the other. But the only group that remained ever loyal to their General bosses, are the judges. All military men in Bangladesh had t a pet judge. Khaled Mosharaf appointed Sayem, Ershad had Justice Ahsanuddin and looks like now Moeen has Ruhul Amin.
In this backdrop, was it wise to expect any bold judgment about Khaleda Zia’s writ against EC? Especially when EC and Hafizuddins have been singing the same chorus for the last few months that they would accept whatever judgment the high court gives and they would not appeal. Didn’t that CJ reconstituted the writ bench of high court just last month?
Supreme court judges are doing what their predecessors in Bangladesh have done all along. But this gives us the opportunity to unmask two collaborators. One is Kamal Hossain and the other is Shahdin Malik. This Shahdin Maliks try to walk both ways. They will write “nice” op-eds filled with “good” words, but in real life they will collaborate and help the agents of the military. Shahdin Malik is another shrewd collaborator like Shujon’s Bodiul Alam Majumdar who will also try to keep both ends.
And by the way, if you did not read it yet, read it now. It is indeed a great piece by Farhad Mozhar.