Bangladesh Parliament on 17 September 2014 unanimously passed the 16th Constitutional Amendment Bill that reinstates Article 96 of Constitution and empowers Parliament to impeach Supreme Court Judges.
The 16th amendment bill introduced by ruling Awami League in the Parliament was passed by a voice-vote of 327-0 in the 350-strong unicameral legislature. The passing of the Bill by voice-vote restored the old provision that allowed Parliament to impeach the judges of Supreme Court for misconduct and incapacity and to make higher judiciary accountable to the legislature.
The amendment to empower Parliament for impeaching SC judges once again was done despite lawyers and political groups urging the government to review the decision.
The amendment was passed by the Parliament within four weeks after the proposal to restore the Parliament’s authority to impeach the SC judges was made.
Effects of the amendment
Provisions that came into effect with amendment allow Parliament to remove a judge of the Supreme Court by adopting a resolution with a two-thirds majority on the basis of a government probe. But it allows the judges in question to defend themselves.
Article 96 of the Bangladesh Constitution that was adopted in 1972 allowed Parliament to impeach the judges of the Supreme Court in case their offences or incapacity were proven by the vote of a two-thirds majority.
But this Article was cancelled later in 1978 by the then President Ziaur Rahman, the founder of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the power was bestowed to the Supreme Judicial Council through Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
This existing constitutional provision allowed the Supreme Judicial Council, comprising of the Chief Justice and two other senior most judges of the Appellate Division, to investigate allegations of misconduct against any judge and makes necessary recommendations to the president.
When: 17 September 2014