Published:  03:33 AM, 11 August 2017

Unfortunate and unwelcome comments


Much noise and much chaos are swirling around the recent verdict of the Supreme Court in relation to the 16th amendment to the Constitution. That is not only sad but also unwelcome and unhelpful. Going by the reactions of people across the board to the ire of the government in response to the judgment, one can easily gauge the shock and even outrage that the remarks on the verdict have caused.
 
Finance Minister AMA Muhith set the ball rolling when last week he told the media that the government would reintroduce the 16th amendment, again and again, even if the judiciary repealed it again and again. That is not the kind of language one expects from an individual who happens to be part of the government.

 Besides, when the finance minister spoke, some in the government wanted us to believe it was his personal view of the situation. That is a clear misnomer, given that people holding positions in government are not expected to air their personal views in public. If they do, they send out a bad message, the consequences of which are borne by the government they serve.

As if the finance minister's remarks were not enough, we now have before us the rather disturbing comments of Justice Khairul Haq Chowdhury, a former chief justice and now chairman of the Law Commission.

 The manner in which he flailed away at the judgment on the 16th amendment on Wednesday clearly left a whole nation worried. Justice Chowdhury thought this People's Republic had dwindled into a Judges' Republic. Why he made that comment is beyond comprehension. Are we to suppose that only because the judiciary has struck down the 16th amendment the entire constitutional arrangement involving the functions of the three branches of the State has been overturned?

 That said, there is too a new precedent the former chief justice has set, one that cannot benefit the country. He has publicly questioned the judgment of the Supreme Court when the convention has always been for former judges and justices to remain aloof from remarking on the performance of their successors.

Last but not least, there is Law Minister Anisul Huq. He has added to our worries by making it clear that the government wishes to expunge parts of the verdict relating to the repeal of the 16th amendment by the Supreme Court. His comments are a good indication of the attitude of the government to the judgment.

 That is understandable, for not every judgment can make everyone happy. But what the law minister has not explained is how the government plans to have parts of the judgment expunged. The full verdict is out there in the open. What is the legal process that will or can be applied by the government here?

Overall, it is a complex situation, created by individuals within or supportive of the government. Things ought not to have come to this pass. For the government, therefore, it is now important that it go for damage control.


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