DHAKA: International Crimes Tribunal chief Justice Nizamul Haque stays in his seat as a petition challenging his appointment was disposed of Monday by the two other judges of the ICT on grounds that the matter is out of their jurisdiction.
Through such ruling, as a matter fact, the two colleagues of Justice Haque in the tribunal upheld the position of their boss, after Sunday’s high-profile hearing attended by Supreme Court bar heavyweights in favor of the petitioner.
The petition was filed by one of the accused being tried as war-crime suspects, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, challenging the legality of his appointment as the tribunal chairman because of his track record as a campaigner against ‘war criminals’.
Justice Nizamul Haque can continue as chairman of the ICT following the decision of the two-judge bench of the tribunal. Justice Nizamul Haque Nasim was not present at the tribunal during the reading out of the rulings.
Justice ATM Fazle Kabir of the International Crimes Tribunal pronounced the ruling: “The matter is disposed of as it’s beyond our jurisdiction--we have no locus standi to give verdict in this regard.”
Earlier on Sunday, Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and Justice AKM Zahir Ahmed fixed Monday to give the verdict after hearing on the petition, filed on October 27 by Sayedee, one of some top Jamaat and BNP leaders detained for 1971 wartime ‘crimes against humanity’.
After attending Sunday’s hearing session, Barrister Abdur Razzak of Jamaat had said, “As per code of conduct of the Supreme Judicial Council, any person likely to be summoned for giving deposition cannot be appointed judge for trial.”
He added: We the defense counsel think that he was made witnesses and we would want to quiz him as he was a member of the 40-member Mass Investigation Commission formed in 1994.
In response to a query, he said they raised allegation against Justice Nizamul Haque under section 6 and 2 (1) sub-section of the International Crimes Tribunal law.
Government counsel Advocate Haider Ali told journalists, “The report of mass investigation is not being used to hold this trial. They mentioned his name as deponent for creating pressure on him. The commission was not any part of government.”
Asked whether the two judges could disqualify another one, he said it is not possible.
Barrister Jamir Uddin Sircar MP, Barrister Moudud Ahmed MP, Barrister Rafiqul Islam Mian and Supreme Court Bar Association President Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain and General Secretary Barrister M Badruddoja of BNP and Barrister Abdur Razzak of Jamaat, among a big band of leading lawyers, appeared before the tribunal for the first time in defense of the accused being tried on war-crime charges.
The Supreme Court bar heavyweights made their submissions opposing Justice Nizam’s position as the ICT chairman on grounds that he had been associated with a mock trial of top Jamaat leaders as war-crime suspects and the ‘people’s court’ had awarded them capital punishment.
Public Prosecutor Advocate Syed Haider Ali participated in the hearing proceedings on behalf of the state side.
After attending the hearing session, Barrister Moudud had told reporters that tribunal chairman Nizamul Haque was an investigation officer of the Mass Investigation Commission formed in 1994.
“An investigation officer can never hold trial impartially. He should tender his resignation for protecting the image of himself and of the tribunal,” he said.
“If he continues his duty as ICT chairman after all these accusations, then the issue can be placed before Supreme Judicial Council,” further said Barrister Moudud, also former law minister.
In response to a query why he did not raise question about it when he was appointed, Moudud said the government should have considered this matter while appointing him.
“Action can be taken now if the government appointed him without being informed about his background,” the barrister-politician pleaded.
BDST: 1155 HRS, NOV 14, 2011
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