Who is the next chief justice?

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supreme-court_63251_1510433914Dhaka: Soon after the resignation of Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, speculations are rife in the legal arena over the next appointee for the top judiciary post in the country. There is a rumor that Justice Md. Abdul Wahhab Miah, who is officiating as the acting CJ at present, is likely to be appointed as the 22nd CJ of Bangladesh. According to another gossip in legal circles, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, who is the second most senior judge of the Appellate Division, may get the post.

As per tradition, the government used to appoint the senior most judge of the Appellate Division as the CJ. Justice Muhammad Imman Ali is the second senior judge, of the Appellate Division, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique is the next senior judge, and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider is the junior judge of the Appellate Division. The government

can appoint any of them as the next CJ. Talking about the matter, law minister Anisul Huq said Justice Miah would continue to officiate as the acting CJ till the President appoints the next top judge of the Supreme Court.

The law minister said that the CJ’s post was not vacant. If the post is vacant, the function of the CJ is defined in Article 97 of the Constitution, he added. Article 97 says, “If the office of the Chief Justice becomes vacant, or if the President is satisfied that the Chief Justice is, on account of absence, illness, or any other cause, unable to perform the functions of his office, those functions shall, until some other person has entered upon that office, or until the Chief Justice has resumed his duties, as the case may be, be performed by the next most senior judge of the Appellate Division.”

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Advocate Joynul Abedin said that as per the Constitution, the President will appoint the next CJ. On October 2, the law minister and the attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, told the media that Chief Justice Sinha had taken a month’s leave “on health ground”.

A day later on October 3, a government circular had named Justice Miah as the acting CJ. It added that Justice Miah would act as the CJ till the end of Justice Sinha’s leave or his return.

Justice Sinha had left for Australia on October 13. Before leaving Dhaka, he told reporters that he was “quite embarrassed” about how a specific political quarter, including some ministers and the Prime Minister herself, had criticised him over his verdict on the 16th Amendment. Finally, the CJ had sent his resignation letter from abroad.

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