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Subordinate staffs of the lower judiciary cannot be dissected

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04th-Feb-2017       
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Appellate Division :
 (Civil)
Surendra K. Sinha CJ
Nazmun Ara Sultana J
Syed Mahmud Hossain J
Hasan Foez Siddique J
Government  of Bangladesh and another. .... Petitioners
Vs
Md Abul Kalam Azad
and others ……
.......... Respondents
Judgment
 December 14th, 2015
Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972
Articles 94(4) and 116A
The independence of judiciary, as affirmed and declared by Articles 94(4) and 116A is one of the basic pillars of the Constitution and cannot be demolished, whittled ground or curtail or demolished of any manner whatsoever, expect under the existing provisions of the Constitution. It is to be borne in mind that the subordinate staffs of the lower judiciary cannot be dissected with the judicial service. The judicial officers cannot administer justice without the supporting staffs..(7)
Circular
It was written with a view to minimizing the manpower of the government employees working in different Ministries and departments, cost reduction and also with a view to keeping 20% vacant posts reserved for future administration reorganizations. So apparently this circular is also not applicable, inasmuch as, apart from the fact there is no scope for reorganization of the lower judiciary in future. The functions of the lower judiciary are altogether different from civil administrative service. Naturally, this circular has no manner of application for filling up the vacancies in the lower judiciary against sanctioned posts ... (13)
Umeders
The Bench Assistants who are called 'Paskars' are so overworked that they unofficially engaged 'Umeders' to write order sheets by making payments from their own pocket. As soon as this fact has been published in the media, the Chief Justice issued circular directing the District and Sessions Judges not to allow any outsider to work with the Bench Assistants. Now that 'Umeders' are not working and as a result, the Bench Assistants are working in the courts of the 'District and Sessions Judges, the Chief Judicial Magistrates, Chief Metropolitan Magistrates, more than 12 hours a day. This supporting staffs are not getting any over time and it is not humanly possible for them to manage more than hundred cases a day and to write orders in the order sheet. ………(15)
Circular
The Ministry of Public Administration's circulars are not applicable to the District Courts. Henceforth, the District Courts will be at liberty to take immediate step to fill up the vacant sanctioned posts for smooth functioning of the courts without taking prior approval or clearance from Ministry of Law and Justice as well as the Ministry of Public Administration. The circulars are not applicable to the lower judiciary. . ..... (17)
Amatul Karim, Deputy Attorney-General instructed by Haridas Paul, Advocate-on-Record-For the Petitioners.
Abdul Matin Khasru. Senior Advocate. instructed by Chowdhury Md Zahangir, Advocate-on- Record-For the Respondents.
Judgment
Surendra Kumar Sinha CJ : Delay in filing of this petition is condoned. The Ministry of Law and Justice seeks leave from this court from a judgment of the High Court Division in Writ Petition No.7428 of 2007. The writ petition was filed by one Md Abul Kalam Azad and three others challenging the memo dated 24 July, 2007 issued by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs canceling their appointments dated 14th January, 2007.
2. Facts relevant for the disposal of this petition are that the then Ministry of Establisment Division now Public Administration by its letter under memo dated 30th August, 2005, gave clearance to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to fill up vacant posts of process-servers under Kishoregonj judgeship. Pursuant thereto, the concerned Ministry issued a letter under memo dated 7th September. 2005, in favour of District and Sessions Judge, Kishoregonj to fill up the vacant posts of process servers. In due course the District and Sessions Judge issued a circular in an issue of a national daily news paper inviting applications from the aspiring candidates to fill up four vacant posts. The writ petitioners thereupon applied to the posts appeared in the examinations and ultimately they were selected and in due course after receipt of appointment letters, they joined in their respective posts on 15th January, 2007. They were deputed to different courts by the District Judge as process-servers of Kuliar Char, Bagitpur, Kishoregonj and they have been drawing their salary as well. After seven months of their joining, they received the impugned memo by which the District Judge directed them to refund the salaries by referring a letter of the Ministry of Law, annexure' H', which read as under:
“উপর্যুক্ত বিষয় এবং সূত্রোল্লিখিত পত্রের আলোকে নির্দেশিত হয়ে জানানো যাচ্ছে যে, সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের ১১-৫-১৯৯১ খ্রিঃ তারিখের (এসপি)-৪৪/৮৮/২৮৩নং স্মারকের মর্মানুযায়ী কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা জজ আদালতের ৫(পাঁচ) টি শুন্য পদের লোক নিয়োগের  বিষয়ে ঘটনা উত্তর/ভুতাপেক্ষে ছাড়পত্র প্রদানের কোন সুযোগ নেই। এ ধরনের কর্যক্রম অনিয়ম ও বিধিবর্হিভূত। এমতাবস্থায়, কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা জজ আদালতেুর নির্মান সহকারী-কাম-মুদ্রাক্ষরিকের ১(একটি) এবং জারীকারকের ৪ (চার) টি মোট ৫টি শূণ্য পদের বিগত ১৪-১-২০০৭ইং তারিখে জারীকৃত নিয়োগপত্র বাতিলক্রমে উক্ত পদের সমূহের বিষয়ে পুনরায় ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণ পূর্বক নিয়োগের কার্যক্রম গ্রহণের অনুরোধসহ উল্লিখিত ৫(পাঁচ) টি পদে নিয়োগকৃত ব্যক্তিগণ যদি সরকারী কোষাগার অর্থ আহরণ করে থাকেন, সে ক্ষেত্রে তাদের নিকট হতে উক্ত অর্থ আদায় করে সরকারী কোষাগারে চালানমূলে জমা দিয়ে চালানের ১ (এক) কপি অত্র মন্ত্রণালয়ে প্রেরণের জন্যেও নির্দেশক্রমে অনুরোধ করা হল।।
3. The High Court Division held that the writ-petitioners were appointed after following the formalities with prior clearance of the Ministries of Public Administration; and of Law and Justice; that the clearance letter of the  Ministry of Public Administration was a product of an administrative order which did not say not to initiate appointment process by the respective department without prior approval of clearance of the said Ministry; that though the appointment process ought to have completed by 30th August, 2006, the process was initiated on 25th November, 2006 and that the Ministry of Public Administration's memo dated 11th May, 1991 was an administrative order which· could not negate the right of the writ-petitioners.
4. Learned Deputy Attorney-General has assailed the judgment of the High Court Division mainly on the ground that the appointment after expiry of the period was without jurisdiction and therefore, the District and Sessions Judge committed illegality in filling up the vacancies without taking fresh clearance from the Ministry of Law and Justice again.
5. Admittedly, the writ-petitioners were appointed against sanctioned posts and under such circumstances why such clearance certificate for appointment of any staff in the judge-ship would be necessary is not clear to us. There is no existing law prohibiting to make appointment against sanctioned post. On our query, the learned Deputy Attorney-General fails to give any explanation in this regard. The direction given by the Ministry of Law and Justice is that since the appointments were made after the expiry of the period fixed by it, the appointments were unauthorised. Before the High Court Division on behalf of the Ministry of Law and Justice the learned Deputy Attorney General had produce a Circular of the Ministry of then Establishment Division dated 22nd January, 1998 in support of its claim, which is reproduced below:
“উপর্যুক্ত বিষয়ে নির্দেশক্রমে জানানো যাচ্ছে যে, সরকারের সুস্পষ্ট নির্দেশ থাকা সত্ত্বেও কোন কোন মন্ত্রণালয়/বিভাগ ও তাদের অধিনস্থ দপ্তর সমূহ তাদের নিয়ন্ত্রনাধীনে বিদ্যমান শুন্য পদ পূরনের পূর্বে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের পূর্ব অনুমোদন/ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণ ছাড়াই কর্মচারী নিয়োগ করে ঘটনা উত্তর অনুমোদন/ছাড়পত্র প্রদান করার জন্য অনুরোধ জানায়। এ ধরনের অনুরোধ সরকারী আদেশ, সার্কুলার ও নির্দেশের প্রতি সামিল এবং এ ধরনের জন্য সংশ্লিষ্ট কর্মকর্তা/কর্মচারীরা সরকারী কর্মচারী (আপীল) বিধি অুযায়ী ক্ষমতার শাস্তি পাবার যোগ্য।
২। এমবস্থায় সংশ্লিষ্ট মন্ত্রণারয়/বিভাগ ও তাদের অধীন¯' দপ্তর সমূহকে এ ধরনের অনিয়ম বিধি বর্হিভূত কার্যক্রম থেকে বিরত থাকার জন্য পরামর্শ দেয়া যাচ্ছে এবং এখন থেকে এ ধরনের ঘটনা উত্তর অনুমোদন/ভূতাপেক্ষ ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের কোন প্রস্তাব অত্র মন্ত্রণালয়ে বিবেচনা না করিবার সিদ্ধান্ত নেয়া হয়েছে। সেমতে এ ধরনের অনিয়ম ও বিধি বর্হিভূত কাজের কোন পুনরাব"ত্তি না ঘটে সেদিকে সংশ্লিষ্ট সকলের সতর্ক দৃষ্টি রাখিতে অনুরোধ জানানো যাচ্ছে।”
6. It was pointed out in the circular that despite that there was strict direction to obtain prior approval of the Ministry of Public Administration for filling up vacant posts by the Ministries/Divisions and their subordinate departments, they did not follow the said direction, which is an offence. We fail to understand how this memo is applicable to the subordinate judiciary, inasmuch as, the said circular relates to appointment of staff against sanctioned posts in different Ministries/Divisions and their subordinate offices. The lower judiciary is neither a subordinate department of the Ministry of Law and Justice nor the Ministry of Public Administration. It is under the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The Article 109 of the Constitution clearly provides that "the High Court Division shall have superintendence and control over all courts and tribunals subordinate to it". (emphasis supplied). Besides, Article 111 proviues that 'The law declared by the Appellate Division shall be binding on the High Court Division and the law declared by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts subordinate to it.' Here also in clear terms the question of subordination of the District Courts has been mentioned. These two provisions are clear and there is no gainsaying that all District Courts are subordinate to the High Court Division. It is not subordinate to the Ministry of Law and Justice Department.
7. In Mazdar Hossain. 52 DLR (AD) 82, this Court held that the judicial service has a permanent entity as 'a separate service altogether' and it must always remain so in order that Chapter II and VI is not rendered nugatory. 'Functionally and structurally judicial service stands on a different level from the civil administrative executive services of the Republic. While the function of the civil administrative executive services is to assist the political executive in formulation of policy and in execution of the policy decisions of the Government of the day, the function of the judicial service is neither of them. It is an independent arm of the Republic which sits on judgment over Parliamentary, executive and quasi-judicial actions, decisions and orders. To equal and to put on the same place the judicial service with civil administrative executive services is to treat two unequal as equal,' this court observed. The independence of judiciary, as affirmed and declared by Articles 94(4) and 116A is one of the basic pillars of the Constitution and cannot be demolished, whittled ground or curtail or demolished of any manner whatsoever, except under the existing provisions or the Constitution. It is to be borne in mind that the subordinate staffs of the lower judiciary cannot be dissected with the judicial service. The judicial officers cannot administer justice without the supporting staffs.
8. In the impugned order, annexure "H" to the writ petition, it was pointed out that the appointment was made without jurisdiction assuming that the District Courts are under its control and supervision, as if it is a department under it. This is based on a wrong premise and on misconception of law. Under no stretch of imagination, the Ministry of Law and Justice can legally give such direction to the District and Sessions Judge.
9. In course of hearing, learned Deputy Attorney-General has drawn our attention to two
circulars of the then Ministry of Establishment Division, one under memo dated 15th March, 1992 and the other dated 17th January, 2000. The circular dated 15th March, 1992 is as under:
উপর্যুক্ত বিষয় ও সূত্রের বরাতে আদিষ্ট হইয়া জানানো যাইতেছে যে, মন্ত্রণালয়/বিভাগ ও ইহার অধীনস্থ দপ্তরসমূহে বিদ্যমান সকল প্রকার (সরাসরি ও পদোন্নতির মাধ্যমে পূরণ যোগ্য) শূন্যপদ পূরণের পূর্বে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয় হইতে ছাড় পত্র গ্রহণের যে নির্দেশাবলী জারি করা হইয়াছিল সেই গুলি পরীক্ষা করিয়া সিদ্ধান্ত গ"হীত হইয়াছে যে, এখন হইতে পদোন্নতির মাধ্যমে পূরণযোগ্য পদসমূহ পূরণের ক্ষেত্রে ছাড় পত্রের প্রয়োজন হইবে না।
২। অতএব, মন্ত্রণালয় ও বিভাগসমূহকে এখন হইতে ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের প্রস্তাব প্রেরণের সময় কেবলমাত্র সরাসরি নিয়োগের মাধ্যমে পুরণযোগ্য শূণ্যপদসমূহ পূরণের ক্ষেত্রে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের জন্য অনুরোধ করা যাইতেছে।
৩। সরকারি নির্দেশানুসারে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের পূর্বানুমোদন/ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণ ব্যতিরেকে সরাসরি নিয়োগের মাধ্যমে পূরণযোগ্য শূণ্যপদ পূরণ করা হইলে তাহা বিধি সম্মত হইবে না বিধায়  এরূপ অবৈধভাবে নিয়োগপ্রাপ্ত কর্মচারীদের বেতন পরিশোধ না করিবার জন্য সংশ্লিষ্ট প্রধান/জেলা হিসাব রক্ষণ কর্মকর্তাগণকে অনুরোধ জানানো যাইতেছে।
১০. ঞযব ঈরৎপঁষধৎ ফধঃবফ ১৭ঃয ঔধহধঁৎু, ২০০০ রং ধং ঁহফবৎ:
‘প্রশাসনিক পুনর্বিন্যাসের কারণে উদ্ধৃত্ত কর্মচারী আত্মীকরণ এবং ভবিষ্যত সম্ভাব্য প্রশাসনিক পুনর্বিন্যাস এর জন্য শূণ্যপদ সংরক্ষণের নিমিত্ত সকল মন্ত্রণালয়, অধিদপ্তর, পরিদপ্তর এবং তদাধীন¯' দপ্তরসমূহ ও সকল স্বায়ত্তশাসিত, আধা স্বায়ত্তশাসিত সংস্থাসমূহের রাজস্বখাতভুক্ত পদ সরাসরি নিয়োগের মাধ্যমে পূরণের ক্ষেত্রে সং¯'াপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের পদ্ধতি প্রচলিত আছে। তবে নিম্নবর্ণিত পদগুলোর ক্ষেত্রে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের ছাড়পত্রের প্রয়োজন হয় না ঃ-
(ক) ক্যাডার সার্ভিসভুক্ত সকল পদ।
(খ) প্রতিরক্ষা কর্মবিভাগের বেসামরিক কর্মচারী ব্যতীত সকল পদ।
(গ) বিডি আর, অনসার এবং পুলিশ বাহিনীর সকল পদ, বাহিনী বহির্র্ভূত সহায়ক এবং করনিক কর্মচারী পদ ব্যতীত।
(ঘ) স্বায়ত্তশাসিক সংস্থা আওতাধীন ন্যাশলারাইজড এন্টারপ্রাইজ সমূহের সকল পদ, যেমন ঃ মিল কারখানাসমূহ পরিচালনার সাথে সংশ্লিষ্ট পদসমূহ।
(ঙ) সরকার পরিচালিত আর্থিক প্রতিষ্ঠানসমূহ যথা ঃ ব্যাংক, বীমা, ইনভেষ্টমেন্ট কর্পোরেশন এবং হাউস বিল্ডিং ফাইন্যন্স কর্পোরেশন ইত্যাদি।
২। সরকারের আকার সীমিতকরণ, ব্যয় সংকোচন এবং ভবিষ্যৎ পুনর্বিন্যাসের লক্ষ্যে ১৯৯৪ সাল হইতে উপর্যুক্ত ক্ষেত্রে মঞ্জুরিকৃত পদের ২০% শূন্যপদ সংরক্ষণের নীতিমালা অনুসরণ করা হ"েছ।
৩। ২০০৬ সালের মধ্যে দেশকে নিরক্ষরতা মুক্তকরণ এবং প্রাথমিক ও মাধ্যমিক শিক্ষা কার্যক্রমকে জোরদার করার লক্ষ্যে মন্ত্রণালয়ের ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের বাধ্যবাধকতা হতে অব্যাহতি প্রদানের সরকারি সিদ্ধান্তের প্রেক্ষিতে এখন হতে নিম্নবর্ণিত পদ পূরণে সংস্থাপন মন্ত্রণালয়ের ছাড়পত্র গ্রহণের প্রয়োজন হবে না।
(ক) সরকারী প্রাথমিক বিদ্যালয়ের প্রধান শিক্ষক পদ।
(ক) সরকারী মাধ্যমিক ও প্রাথমিক বিদ্যালয়ের সহকারী শিক্ষক পদ।
(গ) থানা শিক্ষা অফিসার পদ।
(ঘ) সহকারী থানা শিক্ষা অফিসার পদ।
৪। শূন্যপদ পূরণের ক্ষেত্রে ইতঃপূর্বে জারিকৃত সকল আদেশ নির্দেশ এই সংশোধনী সাপেক্ষে কার্যকর থাকবে।”
11. In the first circular it was mentioned that· to reserve the vacant posts for absorbing the surplus employees due to administrative rearrangement and future probable administrative rearrangements usually sanction from Ministry of Establishment is required to fill-up the posts under government revenue through direct appointment of every Ministry, Department, Section and all Sections under those offices and all autonomous, semi-autonomous organizations. But no such sanction is necessary for the following posts:
a) All posts under cadre service
b) All post of defence except civil employees
c) All post of nationalized enterprise under autonomous institutions
d) All posts of BDR, Ansar and Police Force except Assistant outside from the force and clerk.
e) All Government running Financial Institutions, for example: Bank, Insurance, Investment Corporation and House Building Finance Corporation etc.
12. This letter also does not apply to the lower judiciary, inasmuch as, the lower judiciary is not under the control and superintendence of the Ministry of Law and Justice Department. In the latter circular, it was mentioned that there was provision for prior permission of the Ministry of Establishment for appointing employees against vacant posts. It, however, observed that the Ministries' prior approval would not be necessary in case of filling up the vacancies in respect of the post of cadre service. All posts of Ministries of Defence other than civil employees of BDR, Ansar and Police Department other than clerical posts and some other organizations.
13. A close reading of the latter circular clearly shows that it was written with a view to minimizing the manpower of the government employees working in different Ministries and departments, cost reduction and also with a view to keeping 20% vacant posts reserved for future administration reorganizations. So apparently this circular is also not applicable, inasmuch as, apart from the fact as mentioned above, there is no scope for reorganization of the lower judiciary in future. The functions of the lower judiciary are altogether different from civil administrative service. Naturally, this circular has no manner of application for filling up the vacancies in the lower judiciary against sanctioned posts.
14. Apart from the above, for proper administrative and control of the lower judiciary, the Judges of the High Court Division and Chief Justice usually inspect the lower courts every year. In course of their inspections it is found that in all district courts the smooth functioning and transacting its business are being hampered due to shortage of staff against sanctioned posts due to retirement and appointment process could not be initiated due to these circulars. With the increase of the population day by day, the pace of filing litigations is also increasing threefold. It is reported by the Judges that whenever they write letters for clearance for appointment of staff against sanctioned posts, the reply of the Ministry comes at a belated stage-sometimes it takes one year or more. Naturally this hampers the administration of justice, inasmuch as, unless the supporting staffs help, the Judges, it will be difficult for them to administer justice.
15. There is shortage of Judges in every court and even under the present strength, the subordinate staffs cannot manage the sections due to shortage with the result that even after working extra times, they cannot cope with the situation. The net result is that the docket is increasing every day. The litigants' sufferings are mounting in obtaining copies and taking steps in pending litigations. Cases cannot be made ready due non-service of summons. There is urgent need to increase at least twice the present number of manpower working in the lower judiciary. The Bench Assistants who are called' Paskars' are so overworked that they unofficially engaged 'Umeders' to write order sheets by making payments from their own pocket. As soon as this fact has been published in the media, the Chief Justice issued circular directing the District and Sessions Judges not to allow any outsider to work with the Bench Assistants. Now that 'Umeders' are not working and as a result, the Bench Assistants are working in the courts of the District and Sessions Judges, the Chief Judicial Magistrates, Chief Metropolitan Magistrates, more than 12 hours a day. This supporting staffs are not getting any over time and it is not humanly possible for them to manage more than hundred cases a day and to write orders in the order sheet.
16. So the number of Bench Assistants particularly working in busy districts like Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Bogra, Comilla, Mymensingh, Jessore, Barisal, Comilla. Noakhali, Rajshahi, Dinajpur should be increased to two so that the administration of justice can function smoothly. Accordingly, it is imperative to take immediate steps by the Ministries of Public Administration, and Law and Justice to increase at least one the more Bench Assistant to the District and Sessions Judges, Chief Metropolitan Magistrates, Metropolitan Sessions Judges, Nario-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunals, Chief Judicial Magistrates in all old District Courts. It is hoped that the said Ministries shall take immediate step in this regard.
17. The Ministry of Public Administration's circulars under memo dated 15 March, 1992, 11th May, 1991 and 17th January, 2000 are not applicable to the District Courts. Henceforth, the District Courts will be at liberty to take immediate step to fill up the vacant sanctioned posts for smooth functioning of the courts without taking prior approval or clearance from Ministry of law and Justice as well as the Ministry of Public Administration. The said circulars are not applicable to the lower judiciary. The Ministry of Public Administration is directed to withdraw the aforesaid circulars immediately and intimate this court. Let a copy of the judgment be communicated to the Ministries of Public Administration, and Law and Justice.
This petition is disposed of with the above directions and observations.

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