Vol. 4 Num 293 Wed. March 24, 2004  
Front Page

Bail Fix Allegation
Govt reluctant to act against judge

against a High Court judge for misconduct, as the law ministry did not send the Prime Minister's Office a presidential note on the Supreme Judicial Council's January 26 verdict report.

A ministry official yesterday hinted that any decision on action against Additional Judge Syed Shahidur Rahman would be taken after the Supreme Court Bar Association elections scheduled for March 28-29, as the bail-fix allegation against him has a strong sway over voters.

The government does not want SC Bar Association President Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, who made the allegation public, to use the issue in moulding opinions in his favour, he said, asking not to be named. Rokanuddin will contest the polls as a president candidate.

The government fears Rokanuddin with strong links to the opposition will highlight the allegation as a flaw of the ruling coalition that appointed Shahidur as additional judge despite the Bar's objection, a source said.

"If Shahidur is removed from office now, it will strike a big blow to the coalition-allied lawyers," he said.

The council in its report says it has not been proved beyond doubt to convict the judge of taking bribes in the bail fix, but "on consideration of facts and materials on record in its' entirety, it cannot be said that the allegations are not supported by evidence nor can it be said the allegations are baseless".

The council's in its' view that he should no longer hold the post because of circumstantial evidence.

The policymakers are divided on probable steps against Shahidur, accused of taking bribes from a litigant, Nasima Sultana Kona, to bail her nephew out of a woman's repression case.

The official delay caricatures what Law Minister Moudud Ahmed told the press on January 28 that the issue would be settled in a few days.

"Some ministers are lobbying for the judge. They don't want to see him removed," a policymaker said earlier, asking not to be named.

They believe if the government acts on the council recommendations, it will lose morally as the coalition ignored the objection by the Bar to the appointment of Shahidur. The Bar accused him of embezzling fund from the lawyers' association when he was its treasurer.

Former chief justice KM Hasan, who headed the first-ever council in Bangladesh before his retirement, submitted its report to President Iajuddin Ahmed on January 26 with an opinion that Shahidur should step down as additional judge.

The council was formed on October 29 last year upon a presidential directive following an allegation against Shahidur.