A new Chief Justice has just sworn in. Justice Tofazzal Hossain took oath yesterday but will be at the helm of nations Judiciary for a relatively short term. Future will decide how well he served his role as nations chief judge. However, his promotion clearly breaches a promise made to the nation by this government. Criticizing previous BNP government for manipulation and politicization of judiciary, the current ruling party made a promise to the nation to stop any further manipulation and politicization of judiciary.

As we continue to see the glorious role being played by the high court judges in upholding human rights and rule of law, we also see the ever growing urge in ruling party to see a subservient judiciary.

Justice Tofazzal Hossain has been made chief Justice superseding Justice Fazlul Karim. The time honored tradition of promoting judges according to seniority has again been breached. Definitely the government has a standard which one has to fulfill before one is promoted to higher ranks.

Recent comments made by the full and half ministers for Law about a sitting judge reminds us of the standard government leadership expects.

In threatening and criticizing Justice nazrul Islam Chowdhury for the comments he made in a human rights related meeting, the state minister of law reportedly stated that, ” He was recruited by our government. Such a statement from him is unfortunate. ওই বিচারপতি ১৯৯৬ থেকে ২০০১ সালে আমাদের সরকারের সময়ে নিয়োগপ্রাপ্ত। তার কাছ থেকে এ ধরনের বক্তব্য আসা দুঃখজনক।”

Taking two sentences out of context from a long speech, both the ministers launched attack on Justice Nazrul Islam Chowdhury. In his long speech Justice Chowdhury discussed in detail on article 70 of our constitution which kind of make sour parliament not the perfect debate ground. At the end of his speech he also brought the issue of extra Judicial killing. He said,

… বিচারবহির্ভূত হত্যাকাণ্ড অবশ্যই বন্ধ করতে হবে। বিচারবহির্ভূত হত্যা বিচার বিভাগের জন্য বড় ধরনের আঘাত। আমরা বিচারপতিরা জনগণের অধিকার রক্ষার শপথ নিয়েছি। কিন্তু আমাদের সামনেই যখন বিনা বিচারে কাউকে হত্যা করা হয়, তখন আমাদের জন্য সেটা আঘাতস্বরূপ। কোনো আইনশৃঙ্খলা রক্ষাকারী বাহিনীর সদস্যের হাতে কাউকে হত্যার দায়িত্ব তুলে দেয়া যায় না। এটা জাতির জন্য আত্মহত্যার শামিল। …যারা সংসদ সদস্য হবেন, তাদেরকে আইন প্রণয়নের বিষয়ে সম্যক ধারণা থাকতে হবে। সংসদ সদস্যদের দায়িত্ব হলো জনগণের মঙ্গলের জন্য আইন তৈরি করা। আইনের খুঁটিনাটি বিষয় নিয়ে বিতর্ক করা। আইনের একটি শব্দ, সেমিকোলন—এসব বিষয় নিয়ে দিনের পর দিন বিতর্ক হতে পারে। কেরানিরা আইনের ড্রাফট তৈরি করে আর সংসদ সদস্যরা সেটা হো হো করে তালি বাজিয়ে পাস করে দেবেন, এটা তাদের দায়িত্ব নয়। অনেক সংসদ সদস্য আইনের ড্রাফটটি অনেক সময় পড়েও দেখেন না। দলীয় লোক আইন উত্থাপন করেছেন, তাই এটা পাস।

…Extra Judicial Killing must stop. Extra Judicial Killing is a rude attack on the judiciary. We, the judges have taken oath to uphold the rights of people. But when someone is killed ( by the state) in front of us, it is a direct attack on us. No law enforcement agency can be given the right to take the life of a citizen. It is like a suicide for the nation. Members of Parliament must have comprehensive knowledge in drafting laws. It is the responsibility of the Members of Parliament to make laws those are beneficial for the people, debate on every nitty gritty of the proposed law. There can be debate day after day about one single word, a semi colon etc in  a proposed law. Parliament clerks will draft the laws and the Members of Parliament will approve it hand clapping and saying Ho Ho, ( without doing any debate)–it is not their job.  Many Members of Parliamen sometimes don’t even read the draft law. They only vote for it as the bill was brought in a member belonging to the same party…

While even we  the bloggers refrain from making harsh comments against a sitting judge, these two ministers did not shy away from making sweeping comments against a sitting judge. While one has threatened to unseat the judge by revoking supreme judicial council, the full minister of law made public statement saying the judge made those comments out of his own ignorance.

The comments of these two ministers make me worry about the future of our independent judiciary. The high court division has been doing great job in upholding the rights of the citizens of the country. The nation is proud of them and hope to remain proud of them.

A recent op-ed my Badruddin Umar also makes a strong case against the minister’s threats against the judge.