POST TIME: 15 November, 2017 12:32:08 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 November, 2017 10:43:47 AM
Move tainted SC image: HC

Move tainted SC image: HC

The High Court yesterday made seven observations over the Supreme Court administration’s letter to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to stop graft probe into ‘graft’ of retired Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Zainul Abedin, saying that none except the president gets indemnity.

The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Sahidul Karim made the observations while disposing of a rule it had issued earlier seeking explanation as to why the SC administration’s letter to stop the probe into the graft allegation against Justice (retd) Abedin should not be declared illegal.

The HC bench said the SC administration’s letter could not be considered as the official opinion. In fact, the letter had tarnished the image and dignity of the highest court as no one is immune from criminal prosecution, the HC bench observed.

“There is no legal bar on an investigation into the alleged corruption against Justice (retd) Zainul Abedin following the High Court order. The letter was sent from a particular office. Hence, it was not considered as an official letter. So, we said that the letter was illegal,” the court added.

In its observation, the HC bench said: “The letter tends to send a message that a retired SC judge is immune from criminal prosecution. But, in fact, no one is immune as such, except for the honourable President, and that, too, during his term in office.”

The HC observed that the letter had damaged the image and dignity of the highest court of the country in the eyes of the people.

The HC bench said the letter could be subject to judicial review as it was issued by the office of the Appellate Division under its administrative capacity.

The HC bench said the ACC’s activities in dealing with the inquiry process against Justice (retd) Abedin were not at all satisfactory as it had failed to complete the inquiry process in seven years. However, the HC bench also asked the ACC to exercise extra caution while conducting an inquiry against a retired SC judge for the dignity and prestige of the judiciary. “During the investigation, the ACC should make sure that no one is subjected to unnecessary harassment and humiliation with any ulterior motive,” it said.

On October 31, the HC concluded the hearing on the rule and kept the order as ‘curia advisari vult’ (the court wishes to consider the matter).

During the hearing on the rule, the HC bench took the opinion of three lawyers—Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Joynul Abedin, former SCBA secretary AM Amin Uddin, and senior lawyer Prabir Niyogi—who were appointed as amici curiae (impartial advisers) to assist the court in disposing of the rule.

Barrister Mainul Hossain appeared on behalf of Justice (retd) Abedin, while advocate Khurshid Alam Khan represented the ACC. On October 9, the same HC bench had issued a rule asking the authorities to explain why the SC administration’s letter should not be declared illegal. The HC bench came up with the rule after SC lawyer M Badiuzzaman Tafadar brought the matter to its notice.

The ACC in July 2010 had sent a notice to Justice (retd) Abedin, asking him to submit a statement on his wealth to it. On March 2 this year, the ACC in a letter sought the necessary papers from the top court to start a probe into the graft allegation against the former judge. In reply, the SC sent a letter to the ACC on April 28, saying that it would not be proper for the ACC to take any action against a former judge.