The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the former judicial officers (lower court judges) cannot practise law before the subordinate (lower) courts of the country.
The ex-judges of subordinate courts, who held the offices of judgeship for at least 10 years, can practice law only before the High Court Division of the SC, if they qualify the relevant viva voce, the Appellate Division of the SC said in an order.
A six-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique passed the order after dismissing a review petition filed by two former judicial officers including AKM Fazlul Karim seeking reconsideration of its previous verdict on this issue.
Additional Attorney General Mohammad Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury who represented the state in the court hearing said the former lower court judges having at least 10 years’ experience discharging judicial functions can practice law before the HC if they qualify for the relevant oral test.
They cannot run law profession before the subordinate courts following the SC order, he said, adding that the former lower court judges could have practised law before the subordinate courts and HC until the amendment of the relevant provision of the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order and Rules 1972 on March 12, 1998.
Following several writ petitions filed by AKM Fazlul Karim and many other former judicial officers, the HC in two separate verdicts in 2010 and 2016 scrapped the amended provision of the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order and Rules 1972, which has prohibited the former lower court judges to practice law before lower courts but allowed them to practice law before the HC.
Bangladesh Bar Council, the licencing and regulatory body of the lawyers, then filed two separate appeals with the Appellate Division challenging the HC verdicts.
Following the appeals, the Appellate Division 2017 scraped the HC verdicts and upheld the amended provision of the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order and Rules 1972.
Then two writ petitioners including AKM Fazlul Karim filed the review petition with the SC challenging its 2017 verdict, Additional Attorney General Mehedi Hassan Chowdhury said adding that the former HC judges can practice law only before the Appellate Division.
The former Appellate Division judges cannot practise law before any court of Bangladesh under the Rules 1972, he added.
Senior lawyer AJ Mohammad Ali appeared for the former lower court judges during the hearing of the review petition before the Appellate Division.