Dhaka – A day after Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha left Dhaka for Sydney, the Supreme Court in a statement revealed that he was facing 11 counts of allegations including grafts and money laundering.
The Supreme Court in a statement on Saturday said the President, Abdul Hamid, informed the Appellate Division judges about the allegations, and the Chief Justice did not explain those allegations when the matters were taken to him last month.
Sinha, who was at the fore front of political discussion for the last few months after release of a verdict on a constitutional amendment that scrapped the legislature’s authority to impeach a Supreme Court judge on misconduct and inability, left for Australia on Friday night.
His leave from the office was granted by the President. But, before his departure, the Chief Justice issued a brief statement before the media mentioning his fear about jeopardizing independence of the judiciary.
The Chief Justice’s statement prompted the Appellate Division judges to sit in a meeting that followed the statement signed by the Supreme Court Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam.
The statement referred to a previous meeting between the five Appellate Division judges and the Chief Justice over the alleged corruption.
“But, as the five judges did not get an acceptable explanation or a satisfactory answer during the long discussion, they categorically told him that it would not be possible for them to conduct trial proceedings sitting in the same bench with him until the allegations are resolved’,” statement, also posted on the Supreme Court’s official website, said.
The statement said the post of chief justice is an institution.
For the sake of upholding the dignity of the post and the judiciary, the Supreme Court was yet to give any statement. But in the given context, the statement has been issued, it added.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the Chief Justice’s return from leave to rejoin office seemed to be “a far cry.” He believes his return to the position may create a stalemate at the court unless the allegations brought against him are settled by this time.
The country cannot be run in such a situation, he added.
Prior to his departure to Australia, the chief justice said that he was in good health and would resume office once her get back to home from Abroad. A senior minister, however, told the media earlier that the Chief Justice’s application for leave was granted on health ground.
Sinha said he was embarrassed by the way he was criticised by a political quarter, lawyers, and especially the “honourable prime minister” and some ministers over a verdict. He believed that a certain quarter misinterpreted the verdict to the Prime Minister. The confusion will be dispelled soon, he told reporters.
The Supreme Court statement said it issued the statement as Justice Sinha’s statement was “misleading” and has drawn the court’s attention.
The president invited five judges of the Appellate Division, other than Justice Sinha, on September 30, to the Bangabhaban. Justice Muhammad Imman Ali could not be there as he was abroad at the time.
Four other judges — Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider — met the president.
At one stage of a long discussion, the president handed over documentary evidence over 11 specific allegations against the chief justice, said the statement.
The allegations include “money laundering, financial irregularities, corruption, moral turpitude and some other specific serious allegations”.
After Justice Imman Ali returned home, the five judges held a meeting on October 1 to discuss the 11 allegations and decided to notify Justice Sinha about those.
“If he fails to give satisfactory reply to the allegations, it would not be possible to conduct trial proceedings alongside him,” reads the statement.
The five judges, taking permission from Justice Sinha, met him at his residence at 11:30am the same day and discussed the allegations.
But the five judges did not get a satisfactory answer from the Chief Justice, the statement said adding that they told him that it would not be possible for them to hold trials sitting in the same bench with him unless the allegations are resolved.
Justice Sinha categorically said that he would resign at that point. But he informed that he would come up with his final decision on the following day.
Justice Sinha submitted his application to the president for one month’s leave on October 2, without informing the judges. The president approved it, reads the statement.
The president, as per article 97 of the constitution, appointed Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, the senior most judge of the Appellate Division, to discharge the duties of the chief justice in the absence of Sinha.