The High Court yesterday made seven observations over the Supreme Court administration's letter to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) about retired Appellate Division judge Md Joynul Abedin, saying that the SC letter has tarnished the image of the highest court.
The HC in its observation also said that the letter tends to give an impression that a retired judge of the Supreme Court is immune from criminal prosecution. But in fact, irrespective of a person being in service or not, no one, not even the president, is immune from prosecution.
The SC letter to the ACC had said it would not be appropriate for the ACC to take action against Justice Joynul who went on retirement on December 31, 2009.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim made the observations while delivering a verdict on the rule issued over the legality of the SC administration's letter to the ACC about Justice Joynul Abedin.
“The impugned letter has impaired as well as tarnished the image and dignity of the highest court of the country in the estimation of the public at large,” the HC observed.
The HC in the observation said that the letter is amenable to judicial review as it was issued by the office of the Appellate Division under its administrative capacity and therefore the rule is quiet maintainable.
After the delivery of the verdict, ACC lawyer Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star that the SC administration's letter to the ACC about Joynul Abedin is illegal as per the HC observations and there is no legal bar for the commission to continue the inquiry process.
On March 2 this year, the anti-graft watchdog, as part of its enquiry into Justice Joynul's wealth, asked SC registrar general's office to provide documents related to his salary as well as relevant benefits and services that the SC used to provide him.
In a response to ACC's query, on March 28, the SC administration sent the letter, signed by then Additional Registrar of the Appellate Division of the SC Arunav Chakraborty, saying that questions will be drawn on all the verdicts delivered by the former SC judge, if any action is taken against him now.
The HC observed that the conduct of the ACC in dealing with the inquiry process against Joynul Abedin is not at all satisfactory for the simple reason that it has failed to complete the process during the last seven years.
“The relevant investigation agency or authority should be extra cautious and vigilant while conducting inquiry or investigation against a retired judge of the Supreme Court keeping in view the dignity and prestige of the judiciary as well as the fact that the scale of justice and peoples' confidence is reposed in it so that no one is subjected to unnecessary harassment and humiliation with any ulterior motive,” the HC judges said in the short verdict.
By issuing the impugned letter, the relevant authority has taken into consideration some extraneous and irrelevant facts and circumstances which has rendered the bona fides of the said authorities in question, they said.
“The impugned letter is a mere official communication made by the office of the Appellate Division under its administrative capacity and in no way it can be regarded as the opinion of the Supreme Court.”
The HC said that it has considered the fact that despite issuing the letter, the SC administration has already provided necessary documents to the ACC and that the commission has been continuing with its inquiry process.
On October 9, the HC issued the rule on a suo moto (voluntary) rule asking the then SC registrar general, the then additional registrar, Justice Joynul and the ACC chairman to explain as to why the SC letter to the ACC should not be declared illegal.