From the Editor-in-Chief: Ministers must maintain decorum

Enayetullah Khan
Saturday, March 12th, 2016
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Qamrul Islam and AKM Mozammel Huq have been summoned to appear in court over their recent comments regarding judicial decisions.

 

On the subject, we fully agree with the ministers for commerce and law, who recently suggested that comments on matters of a sub-judice nature must be avoided. We also agree with the attorney general on the issue. The sad reality is that the manner in which Food Minister Qamrul Islam and Liberation War Affairs Minister Mozammel Huq have questioned the authority of the Chief Justice on the issue of the Mir Quasem Ali case has left us all worred. The worry has to do with the injudicious comments of the ministers. They are part of the executive and therefore should have said or done nothing that would undermine the judiciary.

 

Minister Qamrul Islam could have done the necessary bit before making his comments. He could have resigned from the cabinet and then pronounced his views and that too in private. But by taking on Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, by calling for a fresh bench to be constituted without the Chief Justice on the Mir Quasem Ali issue, the minister has raised the very serious question of the degree to which the government has been embarrassed by his act. More telling is the feeling that the minister’s expressions send out a bad message to the outside world about the war crimes trials, which have certainly been conducted along the lines of proper and standard justice. But now, by directing his fire at the Chief Justice, Minister Qamrul Islam has laid the government unnecessarily open to the charge of interfering in the working of the judiciary. We are glad the judiciary has decided to pull up Qamrul Islam and his colleague.

 

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Law Minister Anisul Haq have, through their statements on the issue, given us reason to be encouraged. We believe that like them, there are others in the cabinet, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who are resolute about upholding the image and independence of the judiciary. That Qamrul Islam and Mozammel Huq have expressed their ire at the Chief Justice should worry the government. The food minister also came down hard on Attorney General Mahbubey Alam over the latter’s advice that statements on issues of a sub-judice nature must not be made. To our intense amazement, Qamrul Islam has seen in that advice a connection between the attorney general and the BNP, since Ruhul Kabir Rizvi made it clear that the food minister’s statement constituted interference in the functioning of the judiciary. Mahbubey Alam, according to Qamrul Islam, was speaking in the language of the BNP. The fact is that the problem is not with the attorney general or with the BNP but with the minister himself. The food minister said his heart would break if the judgment he expected in the Mir Quasem Ali case was not to his expectation. That remark was uncalled for.

 

The onus is now on the Prime Minister to remind her ministers that there are lines that need to be drawn between doing partisan politics and pre-judging judicial judgment. Ministers must uphold the highest ethics in public life. When they do not, it is the state which suffers.

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