Bangladesh Empowers Parliament to Sack Supreme Court Judges

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Dhaka:  Bangladesh President Md. Abdul Hamid has given his consent to the 16th Constitution Amendment bill, empowering parliament to sack Supreme Court judges.

The president endorsed the bill five days after it was passed in the House, Parliament Secretariat officials said Monday.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), holding a dawn-to-dusk strike against the constitutional change Monday, had urged the president not to sign the bill and send it back to parliament for further review, bdnews24.com reported.

The officials said a gazette was in the process of being released after the president's approval.

Once published, it will culminate the process of turning the amendment bill into law.

The members of parliament (MPs) will be now able to remove judges if allegations of "incapability or misconduct" against them are proved, a power lawmakers enjoyed for just four years after Bangladesh emerged as an independent state.

The prospect of forming a Supreme Judicial Council for removing judges will now be abolished.

The bill, tabled in parliament Sep 7 after the cabinet approved it Aug 18, was passed Wednesday amid strong opposition from the BNP.

The Awami League enjoys absolute majority in parliament with Jatiya Party as the main opposition with just 34 seats.

The BNP has been accusing the ruling party headed by Sheikh Hasina of "trying to grab hold of the judiciary".

Its leaders also threatened to annul all amendments brought in by the incumbent government.

But Suranjit Sengupta, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliament Affairs, said that the BNP and a section of lawyers were criticising it without a clear understanding of the issue.

"We are only restoring an article of the 1972 Constitution. Parliament won't impeach or remove judges. It will only approve results of investigations if found them guilty," he said.

The power to remove judges has returned to parliament after 40 years.

The first constitution of Bangladesh in 1972 gave parliament the jurisdiction to settle the tenure of top judges and decide about their removal.

The issue of reviving this authority came into focus after the Awami League took office in the last term.


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