Appointment of HC Judges: Govt yet to finalise guideline

Bangladesh on 09 September 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star

The government has not finalised any guideline for the appointment of High Court judges due to opposition from some “influential” lawyers and judicial officials, informed sources at the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Supreme Court.

These people, also aspirants to the posts, opposed a November 2012 draft guideline over fears that they would not be able to meet the academic and professional qualifications mentioned as prerequisites in it, stated the sources.

A law ministry official, talking to The Daily Star recently on condition of anonymity, said HC judges were appointed as per the constitution.
According to article 95 (2), the candidate must be a citizen of Bangladesh and have the experience of practicing as a Supreme Court advocate for at least 10 years; or have held judicial office in Bangladesh for at least 10 years; or have such qualifications as may be prescribed by law for appointment as a judge of the High Court.

The Supreme Court Bar Association has been demanding specific guidelines through formulation of this “prescribing law” for several years, alleging that incompetent people were being appointed judges on political consideration.

A few international organisations, including United Nations Development Programme, had also pursued the government to formulate the guideline, said the law ministry official.

The guideline could be made effective through a gazette notification or be passed as a law, added the official.

Following a writ petition, the HC on June 6, 2010 asked the government to explain why specific guidelines should not be framed for the appointment to bring transparency and competitiveness in the process.

The government is yet to respond, informed sources.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed, on June 14, 2012, had told the House that the government had a plan to enact a law for the appointment.

The November 2012 draft, prepared by the law ministry in consultation with the chief justice, had a set of guidelines, specifying the academic qualifications a candidate requires.

The draft said the candidate must have at least a second class or an equivalent grade in bachelor degree in law from any recognised university and a second class or equivalent grade in master’s degree in law or any other subject.

Besides, the draft also recommended specifying the minimum experience the candidate must have in dealing with cases independently at the Supreme Court.
The ministry sent the draft to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that month to forward it to the president for approval but the PMO sent it back due to the opposition by the lawyers and judicial officials.

Since then, there has been no initiative to formulate the guideline or a law for the appointment, informed the sources.

Law Commission in August last year sent some recommendations on the qualifications to the law ministry, said the law ministry official.

Talking to The Daily Star recently, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said the drafting of the guideline was at its final stages. “Let us wait,” he said, without providing any more details.

Since coming into office in 2009, the government, till date, appointed 54 judges to the HC.

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