16th Consttn Amendment Bill to be placed in JS Sunday05 September 2014 Kazi Zahidul Hasan
The much-talked 16th amendment bill to the Constitution, which aimed at restoring parliament's authority to impeach Supreme Court (HC) judges on charge of misconduct and incapability, will be placed in the House on Sunday, official sources said on Thursday.Law Minister Anisul Huq will place the bill before the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) on September 7, a senior official of the Parliament Secretariat told the New Nation preferring anonymity. He said: "We have already received the 16th amendment bill from the Law Ministry. The Law Minister will table it on Sunday next." After the placement in the parliament, the bill will go to the parliamentary standing committee on law ministry for further examination before voting in the House.The bill may be passed in the current session of the parliament set to end on September 18, added the official.If the bill passed, not only the SC judges, parliament can also remove the chief election commissioner and commissioners of the Election Commission, the chairman and the members of the Public Service Commission, chairmen and the commissioners of the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Comptroller and Auditor General on similar grounds.The cabinet on August 18 approved a proposal for passing the 16th amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution to restore parliament's authority to impeach SC judges on grounds of misconduct or incapacity, and in addition, empowering the legislators to punish holders of all constitutional posts on similar grounds.According to the law minister's proposal contained in the bill, the parliament will impeach the judges for a "proven misconducts and inabilities" with a two-thirds majority in the assembly and the parliament will enact a law governing investigation of the charges against the judges.In line with the law investigating the allegations, the report will go to Parliament in a form of motion of impeachment. The House will hold discussion, giving the alleged judges a room for self-defence, and remove them if charges are proved.The judges will serve for 67 years, says the bill. The draft law terms the Supreme Judicial Council against the spirit of the Constitution's article 7 that says the people are source of all power.It further says, the legislature can remove the President, the prime minister and the Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad. But the judges of the Supreme Court are exception. So, the judges should also be accountable to the people through the legislature elected by the people. "The restoration of the article 96 of the constitution would enhance people's confidence in the judiciary and restore the basic spirit of the constitution. The provision for removal of the judges has been practiced in many countries in the world," it added.The articles establishing the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General stipulate that the holders of constitutional posts will be removed according to the procedures applicable for the removal of the Supreme Court judges.At present, the Supreme Judicial Council, headed by the chief justice, can remove the apex court judges for misconduct and inabilities. Two other senior judges are the members of the council. The existing system put in place by late President Ziaur Rahman through the second military proclamation in 1978.The original constitution of 1972 contained the provision for impeachment of the judges by a two-third majority in parliament.Meanwhile, the ruling Awami League parliamentary body has convened an emergency meeting on Sunday night.Chief Whip ASM Feroz has requested all ruling party lawmakers to attend the meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban after the parliamentary session ends.The parliamentary body is expected to discuss the impeachment provision and the latest political issues in the meeting.