Committed to PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO KNOW
Vol. 5 Num 860 Sun. October 29, 2006  
   
Front Page


Options not explored before president's offer


The president's offer of assuming the post of the chief adviser to the caretaker government himself is the last option for solving the current raging political crisis in the country according to the constitution.

The president expressed his willingness to become the head of the interim government at a meeting with BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Awami League (AL) General Secretary Abdul Jalil.

He decided to start a discussion with all political parties today to reach a consensus over forming the next caretaker government. A move that is the second-last option for solving the crisis according to the constitution out of five options left since Justice KM Hasan's refusal.

Meanwhile, the other two possible choices for the post, former chief justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury and retired Appellate Division judge Hamidul Huque, informed The Daily Star last night that none of them had yet been invited officially to assume the post of the chief adviser.

The constitution provides with the following six options for appointing the chief of a caretaker government in article 58(C).

1. The president shall appoint as chief adviser the person who among the retired chief justices of Bangladesh retired last and who is qualified to be appointed as an adviser according to the constitution.
2. If such retired chief justice is not available or is not willing to hold the office of the chief adviser, the president shall appoint as chief adviser the person who among the retired chief justices of Bangladesh retired next before the last retired chief justice.
3. If no retired chief justice is available or willing to hold the office of the chief adviser, the president shall appoint as chief adviser the person who among the retired judges of the Appellate Division retired last and who is qualified to be appointed as an adviser.
4. If such retired judge is not available or is not willing to hold the office of the chief adviser, the president shall appoint as chief adviser the person who among the retired judges of the Appellate Division retired next before the last such retired judge.
5. If no retired judge of the Appellate Division is available or willing to hold the office of the chief adviser, the president shall, after consultation, as far as practicable, with the major political parties, appoint the chief adviser from among citizens of Bangladesh who are qualified to be appointed as advisers under the article.
6. If none of the above is applicable the president shall assume the functions of the chief adviser of the non-party caretaker government in addition to his own functions under the constitution.

Press Secretary to the President Mokhlesur Rahman Chowdhury told The Daily Star last night that the president will start discussions with all major political parties that were represented in the parliament for forming the caretaker government.

Asked if the other options for appointing the caretaker chief have been met before the meetings with political parties, he said the matter will be decided through discussions.

Meanwhile, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil told The Daily Star last night, "The president asked me and the BNP secretary general this afternoon whether we would agree if he assumed the post of the chief adviser for holding the elections."

Mainur Reza Chowdhury, the chief justice who retired before KM Hasan, had died, while the chief justice who had retired immediately before him is Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury.

AL does not have any reservation about Mahmudul while BNP does not think he qualifies for the post if the constitutional provisions are taken into considerations. The latter has already communicated to the president its objection to Mahmudul being the caretaker government head.

According to the constitution, the name of Justice MA Aziz comes up as a candidate for the post. But if he refuses to take up the responsibility, Justice Hamidul Huq should be the one to assume the office.

The president expressed his willingness to take the helm, before he asked either of the two.

There exists another option for appointing the chief adviser 'from among citizens of Bangladesh' in consultation 'with the major political parties'.

According to the constitution, the president might 'assume the functions of the chief adviser ... in addition to his own functions...' only if the options according to the above-mentioned provisions are exhausted.

While contacted, Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury told The Daily Star that none so far had contacted him to invite him to assume the post of the caretaker government chief.

"You are the first one to have contacted me to talk about the issue," he said. Asked whether he would consider taking the post if proposed, he said, "It's too early to make any comment." He said he would comment only if an official proposal reaches him.

Meanwhile, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, former parliamentary adviser to the prime minister, told The Daily Star last evening that Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury does not qualify for the post.

Justice MA Aziz, who is a retired judge of the Appellate Division, also does not have any scope to hold the post as he already holds a constitutional post as the chief election commissioner.

BNP opposes retired Appellate Division judge, Justice Hamidul Huque, as he resigned from his post in Judicial Administration Training Institute five days ago, said Chowdhury. He retired as a judge immediately before Aziz.

As the reason for not accepting Justice Hamidul, the BNP leader said Hamidul was made to resign from the post by the opposition (AL) to make way for him to be the caretaker chief.

The other two options left are that either the president will call for all political parties for a consultation to appoint the chief adviser or he himself will take the responsibility.

Chowdhury said the president will call the parties today for a consensus. "We have nothing to do," he added.

Refuting the allegation of convenient resignation Justice Hamidul Huque told The Daily Star last night that he is still working as the director general of Judicial Administration Training Institute. He had not received any official invitation to become the chief of the interim government, he said adding that he had sent a letter to the president last night but declined to disclose the content of the letter. "The letter is between me and the president," he said. He will discuss the content of the letter only if Bangabhaban discloses the content of it, he added.