Friday, November 27, 2009

The seven sages, and Caesar's wife

Seven High Court judges refused to hear the lower court's verdict in the Sheikh Mujib killing case. They were intimidated by Sheikh Hasina's followers, with ministers taking to the streets with sticks.

The names of these High Court judges should be engraved in gold – not golden – letters in the premises of the High Court. The reason they were embarrassed was obvious to any student of law: they did not wish the judiciary to be involved in a moral, not a legal, issue, and thereby become politicized, and a branch of the executive.

The other day, I attended a dinner party where the host was in agreement with the Supreme Court affirmation of the earlier High Court ruling of guilty.
However, what was truly interesting was his view of the judiciary: "This government would never have allowed the convicts to be acquitted". That is to say, the judiciary was simply carrying out the wishes of the executive.

This view of the judiciary will be permanent: no one will ever again believe that the judiciary is independent.

The late Justice B.B.Roy Chowdhury told me that General Ershad had never interfered with the judiciary: he was highly critical of the fact, indeed furious, that Chief Justice Shahabuddin had become president after Ershad resigned, thereby violating the constitution.

Now, no judge can ever claim that the executive does not influence (to use a mild expression) the judiciary. Caesar's wife has lost her credibility. She will always be suspect.

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