Govt seeks stay on contempt verdict

September 30, 2013

Full-court hearing posted for Oct 3
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Sunday posted for October 3 the hearing in the provisional petition the government filed seeking a stay on the High Court verdict that had declared the Contempt of Court Act 2013 ‘unconstitutional.’
The Appellate Division chamber judge, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, referred the matter to a full court hearing by all the nine judges on October 3 as the attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, moved the petition seeking the stay on the verdict.
Mahbubey Alam sought the High Court verdict to be stayed saying that the government would file a regular leave petition after it obtained the certified copy of the verdict.
A two-member bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain on September 26 declared the contempt of the court law illegal observing that the law protected the interests of journalists and a section of government officials and curtailed the Supreme Court’s powers.
The bench pronounced the verdict after the final hearing of a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Asaduzzaman Siddique and Ayeasha Khatoon challenging the constitutionality of eight out of 20 sections of the law enacted on February 23, 2013.
They challenged Section 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13(2) of the law for protecting the interests of certain groups of government officials and curtailing the powers of the Supreme Court.
The 2013 law had repealed the 1926 contempt of courts law. After the verdict, the 1926 law would stand restored replacing the 2013 act.
The court  said in the observation that the impugned sections provided ‘unfettered powers’ for the protection of a section of government officials and journalists, which is ‘undesirable,’ ‘discriminatory
and inconsistent’ with Article 27, 108, 112 of the constitution.
Petitioners’ counsel Manzill Murshid opposed the petition that sought to stay the High Court and argued that the verdict created a balance between the executive and the judiciary.
The appeal was filed as five to six secretaries met the law minister, Shafique Ahmed, to convey their sentiment following the declaration of the contempt law illegal.

-Input from New Age

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