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13th-Jan-2016

Chief Justice warns not to be spectators when powers of judiciary being usurped

By Editorial Desk

That Awami government has been usurped by undemocratic forces is the most unfortunate fate for the people of Bangladesh and future of democracy in Bangladesh. The party that was born to fight autocracy and was engaged in long and bloody struggle for restoring democracy for the people to enjoy freedom and justice being under the degrading influence of undemocratic forces intent on gradually but surely destroying  democracy in Bangladesh.
Once the most popular political party now mortally afraid of free and fair elections. The true Awami League leadership should be feeling extremely sad and sorry for such anti-people domination  in the party denying life and soul of Awami League as a bastion of democracy.
Once before at the very earliest stages of independent Bangladesh these outside elements tried to use Bangabandhu's enormous popularity to uproot the fragile democracy by the most hideous of autocracies under which the government would have the power of sacking the Chief Justice. There would be no free press. That attempt failed tragically with Bangabandhu and his nearest family members paid with their lives.
But the deep rooted conspiracy against democracy survived. The tragic loss of Bangabandhu and his family members did not mean anything to them. The Awami League also could not shake of the influence of those who believe in one party communist kind of rule claiming that the rulers are to dictate what is good for the people and remain in power without popular election.
The people's election to choose their government for their own good has been rendered a farcical exercise by arguing that development is more important than democracy or people's rights. To some the allurement of remaining in power lifelong appeared too irresistible.
Now the Chief Justice of the country Mr Surendra Kumar Sinha has bravely raised his voice against the machination for eliminating the last and the strongest bulwark of democracy. Such warning should have come from the lawyers first and the journalists. But they seem to be happy as party activists of undemocratic party politics.
The Chief Justice  S.K. Sinha must be most  painfully but in our view also most rightly appealed to the lawyers and the judges to remain alert for protecting the powers of the judiciary and its independence by resisting the government's  encroachment in the matters of the judiciary. The rule of law does not exist or democracy function where judiciary is made slavish to the interference of the government officials.
The political leaders either of Awami League or BNP did not care to give independence to the judiciary. It is nothing but gross discredit for the democratic leadership that it needed a military backed non-political caretaker government to pass the law making the judiciary to be independent essential for impartial justice.
Justice Sinha's warning could not have been more dire and clear than when he asked us all to be "Beware of the executive, it is trying to take away all our powers."
Nowhere autocracy survives without destroying the independence of the judiciary which stands for saving democratic constitution and justice for all under the law.
We shall most earnestly hope that the lawyers as a community  shall be united on the issue of saving the judiciary from coming under the dominance of bureaucrats for their power greedy whims to prevail and not the rule of law for the benefit of the people. The lawyers cannot be party activists forgetting their own sacred obligation to serve and protect the cause of justice under the rule of  law.
The call of the Chief Justice Mr S.K. Sinha for the   lawyers not to remain indifferent spectators when the judiciary being forced to surrender its supremacy to the supremacy of the bureaucracy must be taken not only by the lawyers but also the whole nation seriously.
It is not worthy of a free nation not to value freedom and the rule of law and not be ready to fight to secure them under a democracy.
Subservient judiciary is slavery for the people and denial of justice under law. The people sacrificed their lives in thousands for democracy but what they have is predominance of the anti-people bureaucracy.  
As it appears the judiciary is failing to properly function as party politics has weakened the bench and bar relations overshadowing the proper dispensation of justice at almost all levels. In a highly charged political environment the lower courts are now under pressure from the police and the government in dispensing justice, the higher courts are unsure of their strength.