The Supreme Court on Saturday issued a rare statement with damning allegations that tainted the top judge’s career, just three and a half months before his retirement.
The statement signed by the top court’s Registrar General Syed Aminul Islam came, hours after Justice Sinha left for Australia on Friday night amid harsh criticism by the ruling party stalwarts for scrapping the 16th constitutional amendment.
Money laundering, corruption and moral lapse are among the 11 charges stacked by the Supreme Court against Sinha.
Describing the chief justice as an institution, Registrar General Syed Islam said: "The Supreme Court did not issue any statement until now for the sake of keeping the image of the position and the judiciary intact. However, this statement has been issued as ordered in the context of the present situation.”
The litany of the allegations raises the prospects of legal action against the beleaguered judge.
Describing Justice Sinha's written statement before heading to airport on Friday night as 'misleading', the Supreme Court said the president invited five other appellate judges to a meeting at the Bangabhaban on Sep 30.
Justice Muhammad Imman Ali could not attend the meeting as he was abroad, but the other judges Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Syed Mahmud Hossain, Hasan Foez Siddique and Mirza Hussain Haider were present, according to the statement.
President Md Abdul Hamid then handed over documents on the 11 specific charges to the judges at the meeting.
"It includes serious allegations such as money laundering, financial misappropriation and moral lapse," the top court said.
The following day, the appellate judges went to the chief justice's residence, when Justice Sinha failed to come up with any plausible explanation over the allegations, according to the statement.
"The five Appellate Division judges then informed him that they will not be able to work with him until the allegations are resolved,” the court said.
Justice Sinha then made it clear to his colleagues that he would resign in that case, but will give his final decision the next day, according to the statement.
"On Oct 2, 2017, without informing the other judges, he filed an application for a one-month leave to the president, which was accepted. In that context, the president, in line with the Constitution's Article 97, appointed the next senior judge Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah to fulfil the duties of the chief justice."
Justice Sinha’s leave and travel abroad amid the criticism of his verdict cancelling the 16th constitutional amendment has pulled in broader attention.
The law minister claimed Justice Sinha went on leave for health reasons.
But before leaving for Australia on Friday, Justice Sinha said he was taking the leave as he was ‘embarrassed’ by criticism from the ruling Awami League.
He also said he was leaving ‘temporarily’ for the 'sake of the judiciary's image'.
Speaking to the press outside his residence before heading to airport, he complained of the government's 'interference' in the Supreme Court, saying it 'will not do any good' to the country.
Sinha's statement on 'interference' was made in reference to Law Minister Anisul Huq's remarks quoting the acting Chief Justice Wahhab Miah.
On Saturday, Justice Miah held a meeting with judges of the Appellate Division and the High Court Division, after which the Supreme Court's statement signed by its registrar general was issued.