Four senior most High judges, who were elevated to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court earlier, were sworn in on Wednesday while five High Court judges abstained from the court proceedings.
The chief justice, ABM Khairul Haque, administered oath of offices to Justice MA Wahhab Miah, Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice M Imman Ali in the judge’s lounge of the Supreme Court in the morning where most of the Supreme Court judges were present.
According to the sources in the office of the chief justice, the five High Court judges — Justice Mohammed Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed, Justice Mohammad Shamsul Huda, Justice Faruque Ahmed, Justice Mohammad Abdul Hye and AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury — boycotted the swearing-in ceremony as they had applied to the chief justice for leave till February 28 after the elevation of the four judges.
The source also said that the five judges were in their chambers but abstained from proceedings.
The president, Zillur Rahman, on Tuesday appointed the four senior most High Court judges to the Appellate Division exercising his power under Article 95(1) of the constitution and in keeping with the recommendation made by the chief justice, about a month ago, sources in the law ministry and the Supreme Court said.
Sources in the Supreme Court and sources close to the judges, said that the five judges had gone on leave in protest against the appointments of Justice Mahmud Hossain and Justice Imman Ali to the Appellate Division.
According to the five, they were demanding that two of them — Justice Mamtaz Uddin and Justice Shamsul Huda — should be elevated to the Appellate Division instead of Justice Mahmud Hossain and Justice Imman Ali as they were senior to the latter two if the seniority were counted from the date of their appointments as additional judges.
After the swearing-in, the attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, and the Supreme Court Bar Association president, Khandker Mahbub Hossain, in keeping with the tradition felicitated the four new Appellate Division judges in the chief justice’s courtroom.
In his welcome address to the new judges, Mahbub Hossain congratulated the chief justice and the president at the elevation of the four senior most High Court judges to the Appellate Division.
The bar association was demanding that judges should be elevated from the High Court to the Appellate Division on the basis of seniority after the president in September 2010 appointed Justice Khairul Haque the chief justice superseding two Appellate Division judges — justice MA Matin and Justice Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman — who went on leave soon after the appointments.
Justice Mominur Rahman, who is still on leave, attended the swearing-in ceremony while Justice MA Matin retired in December 2010.
In his speech to the new judges, Mahbubey Alam, however, differed with the statement of the bar association regarding judge’s seniority.
According to Mahbubey Alam, many developed countries such as United States does not appoint judges on the basis of the seniority in order to choose competent judges. He also referred to the constitutional provision which does not say whether a Supreme Court judge will be appointed on seniority basis.
Citing the example of Justice Nazmun Ara Sultan, who became the first woman judge in the Appellate Division, Mahbubey Alam said she could not be appointed the first women judge of the High Court Division if seniority was considered. Justice Nazmun Ara, who was also appointed the first woman ‘munsif’ in December 1975, was elevated to the High Court from a district judge on May 28, 2000.
Mahbub Hossain, however, agreed with Mahbubey Alam saying that the bar had also wanted judges to be appointed on the basis of merit. ‘But we want the appointment of the Supreme Court judges to be made on the basis of the seniority to avoid appointment on political considerations.’
In her reaction as the first woman judge in the Appellate Division, Justice Nazmun Ara Sultan told reporters, ‘My appointment will contribute to women’s empowerment.’
Courtesy of New Age