Chief Justice Khairul Haque’s rather sparse biography on the Supreme Court website tells us:

Obtained Bachelor of Laws from University of Dhaka and Barrister at-Law from Hon’ble Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London.

Enrolled as an Advocate of the District Court, the High Court Division and the Appellate Division of Bangladesh Supreme Court in the year 1970, 1976 and 1982 respectively.

Elevated as Additional Judge of the High Court Division on April, 1998 and appointed Judge of the same Division on April 2000.

Attended the International Law Conference held at Khathmandu, Nepal in the year 1994.

Khairul Haque is one of the most talked-about individuals in Bangladesh today. The frequency with which he appears in newspaper headlines is rather unusual for a senior judicial figure. He has decided a long list of important, controversial cases. Among other things, he has held that Ziaur Rahman was a usurper and tried to impose a theocracy on Bangladesh.

Khairul Haque’s written verdicts are marked by strong opinions and strident rhetoric. One reads them and feels that there is only of two options. The first possibility: one is in the presence of a true believer, someone who passionately believes in the combative prose set out in these opinions.

Or, the other option: that all these verdicts would have come out a different way if a different political party instead of BNP had been targeted.

How does one resolve the answer to this question? Some of his recent remarks provide a clue.

First, he told a gathering of judges:

বিচারকদের আল্লাহ ও মানুষের কাছে দায়বদ্ধ থাকতে হয়। “Judges have to be responsible to human beings and to Allah.

Then, a couple of days later, he told another gathering:

আল্লাহর দৃষ্টিশক্তির বাইরে যাওয়ার কোনো সুযোগ নেই। ন্যায়বিচার করলে সুসংবাদের কথা ইসলামে ও হাদিসে রয়েছে। ন্যায়বিচার করলে সাতটি আকবরি হজের সওয়াব পাওয়া যাবে। “There is no possibility of evading Allah’s gaze. Islam and the Hadith both mention the rewards for being good judges. Rendering a just verdict is the equivalent of performing seven Akbari Hajj.”

As human beings, we are all entitled to our individual belief systems. However, it is extremely difficult to stomach a sitting chief justice to tell his colleagues of the divine rewards that await them if they hand down impartial justice. What about the individuals of other religious faiths, or atheists/agnostics who are our judges? Do they also get Akbari Hajj?

Passing verdict on Ziaur Rahman’s insertion of Bismillah in the preamble and “complete faith in Allah” in the Constitution itself, Khairul Haque said that such additions were in contradiction to secularism, which was one of the fundamental pillars of the republic. Indeed, he said that this was a betrayal of our Liberation War itself. So, how secular was Khairul Haque feeling when he was exhorting his fellow judges about divine rewards and holy pilgrimage?

For making these changes, Khairul Haque accused Zia of turning Bangladesh into a theocracy. Now, I’ve never lived in a theocracy, so I don’t know what that’s like. However, I imagine it would involve the head of our judiciary exhorting his colleagues to administer justice for the sake of entry to heaven and warning them against comitting misconduct since none could escape Allah’s gaze.

Then, Khairul Haque told a meeting of women judges:

মহিলা জজদের উদ্দেশে প্রধান বিচারপতি খায়রুল হক বলেন, কখনও আবেগতাড়িত হওয়া যাবে না। আবেগে নয়, নিরপেক্ষ বিশ্লেষণ করে বিচার করতে হবে। “Khairul Haque told the female judges: ‘You must never become overtly emotional.’ The verdict must be based on independent analysis, not emotions.”

This one is just plain bizarre. Does Khairul Haque think that our female judges swoon and flutter and decide cases based upon their feelings, or whichever party is more good-looking, instead of the law? Does he, for example, think that Nazmun Ara Sultana, soon to-be the first female member of the Appellate Division, and potentially the first female Chief Justice of Bangladesh, composes her opinions based on feelings and emotions?

And then,

আইনজীবী নয়, বিচারপ্রার্থীর দিকে তাকাবেন “Concentrate on the plaintiff/defedant, not the lawyer involved.”

Where to start with this one? So judges should decide cases based on the identity of the plaintiff/defendant as opposed to the arguments put forth by the lawyers? Then why bother having lawyers in the first place? Perhaps we could just dispense with them and decide the cases based on our “feelings.”

This, coming from the same person, who dismissed Khaleda Zia’s appeal last week based on the conduct of her counsel, T. H. Khan. Take a moment and read this gem of an opinion. In it, Khairul Haque dismisses the case without going into the merits of the matter, and his opinion solely consists of Khaleda Zia’s lawyers: who they were, what they did, and why their prayer for adjournment, even an hour’s adjournment, was rejected. It’s a remarkable opinion.

Khairul Haque’s biography on the Supreme Court website tells us a lot of things. But it does not tell us whether he is serious about the values he talks about, or whether he is a hypocrite using them to advance his own agenda.

But now, I think we can figure it out ourselves.

Updated:

আজ শুনানির শুরুতে এটর্নি জেনারেল মাহবুবে আলম বলেন, এ মামলায় ঘটনা বিকৃত করা হয়েছে, ষড়যন্ত্র হয়েছে কিন্তু বিচার হয়নি। তিনি পুনর্বিচার চান। এ পর্যায়ে আদালত বলেন, পুনর্বিচারের জন্য পাঠানো হলে এর আগে দেয়া দুটি রায় বাতিল হয়ে যাবে। আসামিদের সাজাও বাতিল হয়ে যাবে। কী পদক্ষেপ নেবেন তা আদালতের কাছে স্পষ্ট করেন।আদালত বলেন, এর নথিপত্র থাকলে আমাদের তা দেখান। এটর্নি জেনারেলের সঙ্গে কথা বলে এ বিষয়ে সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়ে আদালতকে জানান। আদালত মন্তব্য করেন, সন্তুষ্ট না হয়ে আমরা একটা অর্ডিনারি অর্ডার দিতে পারি না। আনিসুল হক বলেন, এ বিষয়ে ব্যক্তি বিশেষ নয়, পুরো জাতি অবহিত আছে। আদালত মন্তব্য করেন, কথা বললে হবে না তা আমাদের দেখান। আদালত এ বিষয়ে যৌথ উদ্যোগ প্রয়োজন বলে মন্তব্য করেন।(Source: Sheershanews).

What a wonderful example of not concentrating on the lawyers.