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Bangladesh: Sixteenth Amendment to Constitution Empowers Parliament to Impeach Justices

(Nov 10, 2014) Bangladesh Act No XIII of 2014 amended the Constitution of Bangladesh, empowering Parliament to impeach Supreme Court judges. (Sadiat Mannan, Parliament and Judiciary: Striking a Balance, DAILY STAR, (Oct. 20, 2014).) Part VI, chapter one, article 96, of the Bangladesh Constitution, which includes provisions on the tenure of office of the Supreme Court judges, now states:

(1) Subject to the other provisions of this article, a Judge shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-seven years.

(2) A Judge shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed pursuant to a resolution of Parliament supported by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of Parliament, on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.

(3) Parliament may by law regulate the procedure in relation to a resolution under clause (2) and for investigation and proof of the misbehavior or incapacity of a Judge.

(4) A Judge may resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the President. (The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (2014), Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division website.)

Before the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, articles 96 (2) and (3) of the Bangladesh Constitution under Part VI included a provision on impeachment carried out by the Supreme Judicial Council instead of the Parliament. It stated:

(2) A judge shall not be removed from office except in accordance with the following provisions of this article.

(3) There shall be a Supreme Judicial Council, in this article referred to as the Council, which shall consist of the Chief Justice of Bangladesh, and two next senior judges. (The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (2013), Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division website.)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs had proposed the legislation, now adopted as law, that suggested replacement of sections 2 through 8 of article 96 with the sections 2, 3, and 4. The draft amendment was passed with a 327-0 vote, based on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. (The “Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Bill, 2014” Passed, Bangladesh Awami League website (last visited Nov. 6, 2014).)