The ministers have acted in violation of the law and are in breach of their oaths of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution, the apex court observes.
“In their exuberance, they have undermined the sanctity of the institution of the judiciary by questioning the justice delivery system,” said majority of the eight-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha in the full judgement of a contempt of court case against the duo released yesterday.
On March 27, the apex court rejected the unconditional apology tendered by the two ministers and fined them Tk50,000 each for making contemptuous statements about the chief justice and the judiciary with regard to the verdict in war criminal Mir Quasem Ali's appeals case.
Justice Muhammad Imman Ali and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique wrote the full judgement. As four judges agreed with Justice Imman Ali, his views have been accepted as the court's decision. The other judges of the bench were Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Md Nizamul Huq.
The judgement said that the two ministers had scandalised the Supreme Court in a highly motivated manner in order to influence the judgement of the court. This is gross criminal contempt and a violation of the provisions of the constitution.
“The contemnors deserve no sympathy other that the lenient view taken in awarding sentence which has already been expressed in the short order passed by this Court on March 27, 2016,” it said.
Justice Hasan Foez in his opinion said that he had agreed to the findings of guilt of the contemners and the sentence awarded. But he disagreed with the portion that the contemners are in breach of their oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution.
“It is not the issue in the proceeding to adjudicate whether the contemner-respondents have acted in breach of their oath of office or not. No notice was issued in that regard drawing attention to the contemner-respondents, who are sitting ministers of the cabinet.”
The contempt of court proceeding was initiated as the duo heavily criticised the chief justice on March 5 ahead of the appeal verdict in Quasem’s case.
Qamrul demanded formation of a new bench to rehear the case, excluding the chief justice, alleging that Justice SK Sinha was talking like a defender of the war criminals. He expressed doubt that the war criminal would be handed down death penalty. He also wanted the attorney general out of the hearing.
Echoing Qamrul, Mozammel said that the chief justice should not be delivering the verdict in the case. Other speakers at the discussion too criticised the chief justice.
Before delivering the verdict in Quasem’s case that day, the top court issued a contempt of court ruling against the ministers and ordered them to appear before it on March 15 to explain their remarks. The prime minister too said her government would not own such comments.