University of Pennsylvania Asian Law Review


Judicial corruption has eaten away at good governance in Bangladesh for decades, hindering its ambition to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) and taking advantage of the absence of any effective accountability mechanism. The magnitude of corruption is so intense that the successive Chief Justices, Attorneys-General, local, and international anti-corruption organizations, and even the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (“SCB”) itself in a judgment have forthrightly admitted the prevalence of judicial corruption. The malpractice does profoundly undermine the rule of law and infringe on the people’s right to fair trial. Corruption is on the rise in the country as pronounced by Transparency International in its Corruption Perception Index 2022 released on February 1, 2023. The existence of the sole accountability body, the Supreme Judicial Council (“SJC”), is now in limbo following the constitutional amendment in 2014 replacing the SJC with the parliamentary empowerment in removing the SCB judges. Meanwhile the SCB has declared the amendment unconstitutional and ordered restoration of the SJC. But the executive has lodged a review petition reinforcing its refusal to return to the SJC consisting of exclusively three designated SCB judges. Consequently, judicial accountability is presently hamstrung by the conflict between the judiciary and the executive. This Article first presents a critical analysis of the entrenched judicial corruption and its consequences and then recommends establishing a new accountability body embracing judge and non-judge members building on the international standards stipulated by the International Commission of Jurists and its successful application in Australia. The Article formulates the composition and functions of the new body to be called Judicial Commission of Bangladesh (“JCB”) to bring about a reconciliation between the two apparently irreconcilable organs of the government and operate as a watchdog for the judiciary.

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