16th amendment: Bangladesh apex court to hear review petition on Jan 18

The Appellate Division decides that a six-member bench is competent to hear the review petition

Senior Correspondent
Published : 7 Dec 2023, 08:59 AM
Updated : 7 Dec 2023, 08:59 AM

The apex court has scheduled a hearing on Jan 18 for a review petition challenging the ruling that declared the 16th amendment to the constitution, granting parliament the power to remove judges, illegal and void.

A six-member bench of the Appellate Division led by Chief Justice Obaidul Hasan set the date for the hearing on Thursday.

On Jul 3, 2017, a seven-member Appellate Division bench upheld a High Court verdict that declared the 16th amendment to the constitution illegal, in response to an appeal by the state. Later, the state filed an application seeking a review of the apex court's judgment.

Six years later, on Nov 23, the Appellate Division decided that a full bench of the Appellate Division would be able to conduct a hearing on the review petition over the much-discussed constitutional amendment after taking the opinions of senior advocates.

Lawyer Manzil Murshed, who represented the writ petitioners, had emphasised the convention that a review of a judgment should be heard by a bench with an equal or greater number of judges than the original bench that delivered the judgment.

But the six senior lawyers, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin, Supreme Court Bar President Momtaz Uddin Fakir, Senior Advocate Ajmalul Hossain QC, Prabir Niyogi, Murad Reza, Tanjibul Alam, and Additional Attorney General Sheikh Mohammad Morshed, all agreed that the court as it is presently constituted is competent to hear the review petition.

However, senior lawyer Kamrul Haque Siddiqui gave an opposing opinion, stating that it would better to have a review hearing in a bench of an equal number of judges or more judges. A six-judge bench may raise new questions if the review is heard, according to him.

On May 5, 2016, a special bench of the High Court consisting of Justice Mainul Islam Chowdhury, Justice Kazi Reza-ul Haque, and Justice Ashraful Kamal declared the Sixteenth Amendment invalid based on the majority opinion.

On Aug 11 of that year, the verdict was published on the Supreme Court website. Later, the state party appealed against the decision.

The Appellate Division appointed amicus curiae to hear the appeal on Feb 8, 2017. Among the 10 amicus curiae in the appeal hearing, only Ajmalul Hossain gave an opinion in favour of the 16th Amendment.

The nine other amicus curiae, including Kamal Hossain, MI Farooqui, Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan, former attorney general AF Hassan Ariff, Amirul Islam, Justice TH Khan, Rokanuddin Mahmud, Fida M Kamal, and AJ Mohammad Ali, presented their views against the amendment.

On May 8 of that year, the hearing of the appeal against the verdict of the High Court began and lasted for 11 days.

Later on Jul 3, 2017, a seven-member Appellate Division bench headed by the then chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha upheld the High Court verdict declaring the 16th amendment illegal and void.