Protesting judges take out rally in Dhaka

July 28th, 2009 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 28 (IANS) The Bangladesh capital, which is used to myriad street protests, witnessed an unprecedented demonstration Monday by over a hundred lower court judges.
Arriving in several buses, they staged a vociferous rally in front of the Law Ministry at the Central Secretariat saying they had not been consulted before the government decided to bifurcate the law ministry that employs them.

Organised under the banner of the Bangladesh Judicial Service Association, they had no passes and had sought no prior appointment. They protested when the guards tried to frisk them, citing security rules.

A large posse of police and the elite Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) confronted them.

The judges allege that the Law Secretary Kazi Habibul Awal called the force to ‘humiliate’ them.

Now they want his removal.

“That is our main demand,” association secretary general, district judge Mohammed Shahjahan, told New Age newspaper.

Law Minister Shafiq Ahmed received a delegation led by association president Abdul Gafoor, also a district judge.

The minister sought to play down the incident while talking to the media.

“I will not call it an incident…They (judicial officers) came to me to express their opinion on the decision to divide the law ministry into two — one for legislative and parliamentary affairs and the other for law and justice affairs,” Shafique Ahmed said.

The judges had left their work at the courts to participate in the rally.

Asked whether it was in violation of the service rules to remain absent from the court during official hours and agitate openly at the ministry, the minister declined comment.

The Supreme Court would deal with the matter of taking departmental proceedings against the judges, the minister said, “since the judiciary is now independent of the executive”.

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