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If I get permission of the govt, I will go to Australia: Bangladesh CJ

Bangladesh’s Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha may leave for Australia on October 13 for nearly a month. This follows a landmark verdict he delivered on August 1 that has reportedly put him in conflict with the Bangladesh government and ruling party politicians.

Speaking to WION, Justice Sinha confirmed that if granted permission from the government he would indeed go to Australia. “If I get the permission of the government, that is the Honourable President, (Abdul Hamid) then I will go to Australia,” he said. Justice Sinha however refused to go into the reasons as to why he wanted to visit Australia and for how long he would be there.

Local media here have reported that Sinha has been granted a three-year visa to travel to Australia but senior lawyers in the country claim that he is being forced to leave the country for the landmark verdict that he had delivered.

His verdict on August 1, had annulled the 16th amendment of Bangladesh’s constitution, by which he scrapped the right of the legislature to impeach judges for any misconduct. This reportedly has angered the government.

Senior lawyers in Bangladesh said that the chief justice has been vocal about civil liberty and independence of the judiciary. They told WION that the saga over CJ’s verdict and the subsequent reactions from the ruling party is a compromise to the independence of the judiciary.

“We heard some very ugly communal statements, sectarian statements by senior officers of this government against the honourable chief justice saying that he should leave the country, which is absolutely disgraceful and condemnable,” said Sara Hossain, a senior of lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court.

Justice Sinha is the first person from the Hindu religious minority to be holding the highest position of the judiciary in Bangladesh.

“By this act we feel that the judiciary will not be independent and the government will interfere in each and every stage, that is our anxiety in this country. He has taken the visa not on his own will,” Zainul Abedin, president of Bangladesh Supreme Court Bar Association told WION.

Apart from confirming that he would leave for Australia, if granted permission, Justice Sinha has refused to comment on the matter. But the government and ruling party politicians told WION that his verdict and leave are separate affairs being politicised by the opposition political parties such as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). “There is no connection with the 16th amendment judgment with the prayer for leave of the honourable CJ SK Sinha,” said Abdul Matin Khasru, chairman of the Bangladesh parliamentary committee on law affairs. In an application to the Bangladesh President, Justice Sinha had cited ill-health and asked to take a month-long leave from October 3 to November 1. The law ministry in Bangladesh on Tuesday forwarded the letter of the CJ to the president.

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