Ashraf’s Column

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lessons from Aziz drama

Right at this moment (November 14 evening) a very high political drama is going on with CEC Justice M A Aziz at the centre of the stage. His total indifference to what all has been happening has justifiably raised question about his mental health.

The blockade, the stoppage of all economic activities including export and import, the closure of all educational institutions, the stoppage of intercity movements of the people including ailing patients, and the painful deaths of common people on the streets, have all failed to touch the conscience of a person who is not only holding a prestigious degree of Bar-at-Law, but also was, the other day, a justice of the highest court of our country.

A justice of the Supreme Court in any country conducts his official business from a very high moral ground. That is why once a person becomes a justice s/he is always and everywhere addressed as ‘Justice’ as a mark of profound respect throughout her/his life. Once one loses that moral authority, rightly or wrongly, the concerned person should voluntarily step down.

In the last 16 years when the BNP and the AL were in power, it seems, the high commands of these two parties were in a competition to appoint as many politically partisan persons as possible as judges of the High Court Division of our Supreme Court whose educational qualification, professional competence and, most importantly, integrity were/are questionable.

Justice M A Aziz by his conduct as the CEC has certainly proved himself as one of them. And the most unfortunate fact is that Justice M A Aziz is not alone. The BNP and the AL have burdened the nation with many such justices. (No Chief Justice ever resigned in protest.

Only the members of the SCBA belonging to the opposite political camp decried such appointments.) We cannot get rid of these gentlemen and ladies in the next 25 or 30 years.

The time has come for the nation to seriously think about the matter and find out more effective ways to select non-partisan persons with known integrity, moral courage and professional competence for appointment as judges of the High Court (and Chairman/ members of the Anti Corruption Commission/ Public Service Commission).

The job can no more be left to the present politicians who are so well known for their lack of integrity, moral courage, false promises and competence. The Constitution should be amended to make provision for a selection committee on which there should be at least three senior most judges of the Supreme Court and two non-partisan senior members of the Bar Council. The job cannot be left to the next political government, whichever it may be. We have seen the way they have been
deceiving the nation for the least last 16 years with the separation of judiciary from the executive.

The present caretaker government (CG), with a very capable legal expert like Justice Fazlul Haque as its member, can easily do it by issuing an appropriate ordinance. The present CG cannot escape from this moral duty by saying that their job is only to hold an election, and not to get involved in such policy matters. (Remember, how Justice Shahabuddin’s CG, in the absence of the parliament, amended the Special Powers Act of 1974, by issuing an ordinance to make the press free from the shackles of the government. The nation is still enjoying that freedom, and remembering Justice Shahabuddin with due respect).

How can you have a fair election with all unfair people around you? It is a dire necessity to do the needful now to select the right people for the higher judiciary. If it is done now, we shall not have a political crisis like the present one before the general election in 2012. May I remind the respected CA and his advisers two very old maxims: necessity knows know law, and better late than never.


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