No approval needed to sue govt officials: HC

January 31, 2014

The High Court yesterday declared Section 32(Ka) of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013 “illegal” and “unconstitutional”. This section incorporated the provision that makes it mandatory for the ACC to take prior government approval to initiate any graft case against government officials and lower court judges. A HC bench comprising Justice Quazi Reza Ul Haque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain passed the order after ending the final hearing of a writ petition that challenged the legality of the controversial provision of the law.
The HC, in its verdict, said the ACC law had been amended by incorporating the provision in order to save a section of people, which contradicts the Constitution. As per the Constitution, every citizen is equal in the eyes of the law but the provision was against the Constitution, it added.
The HC also observed that the provision, which curtailed the authority of the anti-graft watchdog, is malafide. That is why the provision is “unconstitutional” and it has no legal effect, the verdict added.
Advocate Manjil Morshed argued in favour of the writ petition, saying that the amended section provided special facilities for government officials, employees and judges of lower courts.
According to Section 32(Ka) of the ACC law, the commission must take prior government approval to file any case against government officials and employees and lower court judges.
The controversial Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013 had been passed in Parliament on November 10 last year.
On behalf of Human Rights and Peace Bangladesh, four lawyers had filed the writ petition on November 25.
After the preliminary hearing, the HC issued a rule to all concerned, including the Speaker, Cabinet secretary, law secretary, secretary to the President’s Office and secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office to explain within four weeks as to why the amended section of the ACC law should not be declared illegal.
Morshed also argued that the Constitution provided equal rights to all citizens of the country. “That is why enacting any law by giving special privilege will be treated as discriminatory. This provision also took away the fundamental rights of the citizens,” he added.
The amended ACC law also contradicts Article 27 of the Constitution.
Earlier, advocate Dr Yunus Ali Akand sent a legal notice to cancel the disputed provision of the law.
Meanwhile, ACC chairman M Bodiuzzaman expressed satisfaction over the HC verdict. “We are happy with the High Court verdict,” he said while talking to reporters before leaving his office on Thursday.
The ACC chief also said another writ petition had been filed before the High Court to scrap the 28(Ga) provision of the ACC law, which incorporates provision for punishment of ACC officials. “We hope the verdict of the writ petition will also go in our favour,” he added.
Meanwhile, expressing satisfaction over the HC verdict, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman on Thursday urged the government to complete the process for annulling the controversial provision of the law. “The verdict established the constitutional validity and upheld that every citizen is equal in the eye of law in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.

Courtesy of The Independent

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