AK Khandker and his book
M. Serajul Islam
AK Khandker (AKK) has enflamed the political platform with his book “1971 Bhetoray Bairay”. The book has also brought the former Deputy Chief of the Mukti Bahini bagful of abuses and insults. The ruling party supporters have condemned him into the same league as late President Ziaur Rahman whom they called a Pakistan ISI agent, and Kader Siddiki, whom they named as a neo-Razakar. They have accused AKK of taking money from ISI to write the book as a part of conspiracy by anti-liberation forces against Bangladesh!
Critics have used the meanest adjectives to attack the war hero where even his presence at the historic surrender ceremony on December 16, 1971 as Deputy Chief of the Mukti Bahini has been trashed. They have stated that AKK was loitering in Kolkata on 16 December 1971 and was lifted by the Indians and taken to Dhaka for the ceremony, thus undermining the role of Mukti Bahini in the liberation war and India in that war. They further stated that even his dress in shirt and trouser and not war fatigues indicated that he was not actively involved in the liberation war!
The ruling party supporters and other critics of AKK are shocked because he said in the book that Bangabandhu ended his historic March 7 speech with “Joy Pakistan” after saying “Joy Bangla.” They have also been angered because AKK has said that Bangabandhu did not announce the independence of Bangladesh before he surrendered and that the Awami League was not prepared to fight the war of liberation. These statements in AKK’s book have hit the AL’s interpretation of the 1971 war of liberation with the force of a political tsunami.
Ironically, in attacking AKK, the Awami Leaguers have bit at their own base. They have used foul language to abuse him but have not been able to put forward convincing arguments to dismiss the issues of history that the war hero has raised in his book. Instead of convincing arguments, they have argued that anyone who contradicts or questions the zero-sum contribution of Bangabandhu in the war of liberation of Bangladesh is a traitor and does not deserve to live in Bangladesh.
I have worked with AKK for five years; between 1980-82 in Canberra and between 1983-86 in New Delhi. He talked to me about the events of 1971 many times over. Except the issue of “Joy Pakistan”, all the other issues that have brought AKK heaps of abuse from the Awami League have been written the same way as he had told me in one to one conversations I had with him. The “Joy Pakistan” issue has surprised me as it has many others. But the other issues that have angered the Awami Leaguers have been discussed and written in the public domain before AKK’s book. Tajuddin’s daughter’s book is more graphic against the AL’s version of history on the issues of declaration of the war and its preparedness than AKK’s book.
AKK to those who know is nothing like the villain that his present opponents have tried to make him. If patriotism means being prepared to do for the country whatever it requires to ensure and protect its independence, then he should be anyone’s patriot. In those long conversations I had with him, he would tell me repeatedly how from March 1, 1971 he would walk from his residence to the old airport and watch the Pakistanis bring in every flight of PIA paramilitary from West Pakistan dressed in the Awami dress. His own intelligence being the second in command of the East Pakistan base of the Pakistan Air Force told him in no uncertain terms that the Pakistanis were involved in sham negotiations with Bangabandhu to buy time to strike upon the people of East Pakistan.
AKK had also told me of his closeness with his Punjabi boss and how easy it would have been for him and those in contact with him before March 25 to destroy the Air Force arsenal. As many would remember, the Pakistanis used the Air Force extensively for strafing to physically control the land after the Pakistanis started their genocide on the night of March 25, 1971. AKK’s contact with the AL’s political leadership to destroy the Air Force’s arsenal was turned down with contempt. Similar attempt by Brigadier Majumdar in Chittagong from where the announcement of independence was made and the first salvos at the Pakistani army by the freedom fighters to make the first move was also turned down.
No historical evidence has yet turned up to suggest that the AL had contacted the Bengali members of Pakistani’s military, EPR, Police to prepare for the war of independence. There is no evidence either that the AL itself had any armed cadre for such a war in which the Pakistanis massacred hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. In fact, these Bengali officers/soldiers/ armed personnel defected and spontaneously started their armed response to the Pakistani genocide on their own and did not wait for a declaration of independence. The AL’s leadership had crossed into India and Bangabandhu had surrendered to the Pakistanis without any contact with them.
AKK, like the rest of those who joined the freedom movement from armed cadre background, decided to join the war of liberation on his own accord. He left Dhaka within days of the start of Pakistani genocide with his family and joined the liberation war risking his life and those of his wife and children who accompanied him. The way the members of the ruling party in which the opposition JP also joined and abused AKK in parliament was unbelievable. Members wanted the book banned; AKK arrested and tried as a traitor. The body language of these members was particularly significant, full of venom like they wanted to physically tear the war hero apart. Those who watched this surreal session in parliament were left wondering where those who attacked AKK with such venom were during the liberation war.
The AL came to power in 2008 riding the crest of a popularity wave. AKK as the President of the Sector Commanders Forum was instrumental in motivating the Projonmo to vote for the AL on the spirit of 1971. It is also significant that those who were with AKK at the launching of his book were not BNP or Jamat but stalwarts of the AL’s cultural front. They must have read the book underlining that many prominent Awami Leaguers like for instance Dr. Anisuzzaman have not dismissed the book the way Awami League’s top political leadership has.
AKK has not been disrespectful to Bangabandhu personally in the book. His book’s basic theme nevertheless is that the genocide of the Pakistanis that started on March 25, 1971 transformed people in such manner that it did not matter who announced the independence or who led it because the people were determined to die for freedom. His regret is that had the AL been better prepared for the war of liberation, there would have been lesser miseries and deaths in that war. In fact, dispassionate reading of his book would give the BNP many issues to criticise because AKK does not give Ziaur Rahman any of the credit that the party gives him for announcing the declaration of independence and his role in the liberation war.
There is nothing wrong in the criticisms against AKK’s book but there is nothing right either in the manner the Awami League supporters have subjected him to abuse/humiliation and insults. Finance Minister AMA Muhit made this point explicitly when he asked those who oppose his book to write his/her own book and refute the points/issues with which they differ. However, the Awami Leaguers have shown no intention of taking up AMA Muhit’s suggestion and have kept up their abuse on their belief that all glory of independence of Bangladesh should go to Bangabandhu and the Awami League; a belief that is now falling apart. AKK’s book and that of Tajuddin’s daughter would be of tremendous value when attempts are made at some future time to get out of the AL’s zero-sum interpretation of history and seek out a balanced view of the 1971 liberation war.
Doubt lingers also in the minds of many who are not AL supporters whether Bangabandhu said “Joy Pakistan”. However, the onus is on AKK’s opponents to prove he is wrong. The only way to do this is to bring out a record of the entire speech. Meanwhile, the Awami Leaguers who are now attacking AKK should spare a moment and consider that they are not doing Bangabandhu or their role in 1971 any favour by condemning the country’s top liberation war heroes – Maulana Bhasani, MAG Osmani, Ziaur Rahman; Kader Siddiki; and now AKK - as anti liberation force and ISI agents. Meanwhile AKK has resigned as Chairman, Sector Commanders’ Forum that has enhanced his standing with those who think that those who fought with arms in 1971 are the country’s real heroes. He has not budged even a bit from what he wrote in the book.
The writer is a retired career Ambassador. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Abe’s Dhaka visit and Japan’s strategic interests
M. Serajul Islam
Japan has been Bangladesh’s most trusted friend. It has always treated Bangladesh as special since recognising the country in February 1972. Bangladesh was the largest recipient of Japanese ODA for a long time. In the 1970s 80s and 90s, when its development partners were literally underwriting the country’s development budget, Japan was Bangladesh’s number one provider of development assistance. Japanese assistance was of the highest quality going to the country’s economic and human infrastructure building. Although Japanese aid has been both in aid and grant, most of the aid has been subsequently written off as grant.
Development assistance, however, is no longer as critical as before to Bangladesh’s development efforts. Nevertheless, Japan’s importance to Bangladesh has not diminished even a little bit. In fact it has enhanced significantly because Japan can now literally lift Bangladesh the quickest towards its destination of becoming a middle-income country through trade and investment. The ground work for such cooperation was laid out during the successful visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Japan in the end of May when Japan pledged US$ 5.96 billion over next five years in assistance and proposed the formation Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BBIGB) to help Bangladesh realise its huge economic potentials and expedite its growth.
Both were major overtures by Japan to become deeply involved in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the decision of the Japanese Prime Minister to come to Dhaka so soon after Sheikh Hasina’s visit emphasised a paradigm shift in its interests in Bangladesh. The offers/proposals that Japan made to the Bangladesh Prime Minister in Tokyo were expected to mature over time. In fact, a number of high-level visits from Tokyo to Dhaka were undertaken already to carry forward the discussions and decisions reached in Tokyo at the Summit meeting. There was no need for Japan to pursue those decisions at another Summit level meeting. In diplomatic parlance, visits at summit level that take place in such quick succession hints at something unusual and extraordinary.
Therefore, the reason for Shinzo Abe’s Dhaka visit was an urgent one and perhaps had little to do with the decisions reached between the two countries in Tokyo. Subsequent to her visit to Japan, Sheikh Hasina had visited China. A number of decisions were reached there on Bangladesh-China relations that must have worried Tokyo. One was the discussion on the Chinese offer to build the Sonadia deep seaport. The others were the decisions on enhancing military and economic cooperation. The offer on Sonadia and decisions of cooperation in economic/military areas underlined that Chinese involvement in Bangladesh is deepening and entering into strategic areas. In particular, the offer to build the Sonadia deep seaport where Chinese also have stated they would keep control had the potential to directly conflict with the Japanese offer of the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt.
Japan and China have historical enmity with a lot of it emanating from Japanese occupation of China during the Second World War. That enmity has now taken a new dangerous dimension over the issue of the islands in South China Sea. Japan’s BBIGM offer has been made keeping in view the strategic location of Bangladesh and its importance vis-à-vis China. Amitava Mukherjee has recently underlined that strategic value in an article “Is Bangladesh the newest acquisition to China’s pearl of strings? in the Internet based web paper geopoliticalmonitor.com. In the article, the writer highlighted Bangladesh “as a country which overlooks the strategically important sea lanes of the Indian Ocean linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, thus playing a role in securing energy supplies for Beijing”.
Therefore there are ample reasons to believe that the overtures by China to Bangladesh during Sheikh Hasina’s China visit taken after her Japan visit have worried Tokyo and necessitated the visit of Shinzo Abe to Dhaka to woo Bangladesh from China. Meanwhile, the new government in New Delhi is coming come closer to Washington. Secretary of State John Kerry has already visited New Delhi and Narendra Modi would be visiting Washington later this month. The Indo-US strategic partnership that President Obama had announced in 2011 to stop Chinese influence in Southeast Asia and Pacific that was sent to cold storage as US-India relations deteriorated under the Congress government over a host of issues where Bangladesh’s elections of January 5 also played a role is now warming up again.
Japan, a traditional US partner, under Shinzo Abe’s second term, has also targeted Southeast and South Asia as a new focus in foreign affairs where it sees China’s influence the same way, as does the United States, perhaps even with more concern. Thus the US/India and Japan are getting closer in a strategic partnership that wants to contain China from expanding into South Asia and Southeast Asia vis-à-vis China. In the evolving strategic equations, Bangladesh’s geopolitical location has become very important. Bangladesh may thus be moving into a position where USA/India/Japan could be vying for Bangladesh’s support to keep China from getting any foothold in the geopolitical location that is emerging as one of tremendous strategic value. In fact, US’ massive investments in Myanmar that is equally important in this emerging cold-war type of conflict have been made with containing China in view.
One is not sure if the Bangladesh foreign policy strategists have considered its attempts to deal with Japan and China with these strategic issues in mind. It does not appear to be so. In fact, one could suspect that the Bangladesh Government has inadvertently walked into a situation that could turn for it into a hot potato where the way the issues would be resolved would depend not on it but on the international players. This would explain why Shinzo Abe’s Dhaka visited Dhaka so soon after Hasina’s Tokyo and also visited Sri Lanka together with his Dhaka visit where the Chinese are creating a foothold through helping that country with its deep seaports.
In fact, the media has openly stated that Shinzo Abe’s Bangladesh and Sri Lanka visits were undertaken to offset China in South Asia. These views have connected Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo before he visited Dhaka/Colombo to conclude a Japanese-Indian meeting of minds on China vis-à-vis China. Shinzo Abe did not cover any new issue in Dhaka in Bangladesh-Japan bilateral relations except those covered in Tokyo. He reiterated again the importance of the BBIGB that only exposed further Japan’s interest to use this proposal to offset the Chinese offer on Sonadia and thereby get a strategic stranglehold in the Bay of Bengal.
Shinzo Abe steered clear of Bangladesh’s internal politics. He said nothing that was of use for the AL led government to score points over the issue of legitimacy of the government. In fact, his meeting with Begum Zia and his emphasis on discussion among the parties suggested that Japan considers that Bangladesh is still in the midst of a political crisis that needed to be resolved. In all these, he of course did not fail to get from a government willing to do anything to please Japan a commitment on its candidature for a seat as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council. The large business/investment delegation that went the Japanese Prime Minister nevertheless that Japan is looking at Bangladesh seriously as a major investment destination.
Shinzo Abe’s visit was pursued in Japan’s long-term strategic interests with Bangladesh with the immediate objective to stop China’s influence in the country and South Asia growing. He has left the Bangladesh Government with the task of finding a way to deal with China with which it has wittingly or unwittingly gone deeper in economic/defence and strategic cooperation after Sheikh Hasina’s visit; a task that will now get more difficult as USA and India are expected to join Japan in encouraging Bangladesh to disengage from China’s strategic goals in the region.
The writer is a former Ambassador to Japan. His email id is email@example.com
President’s Obama’s present predicament: A deer before headlights
M. Serajul Islam
The President who had ignited so much hope in not just his own country but the rest of the world with his message of change is now fighting his own personal battle to keep his name from heading the list of US’ worst Presidents. President Barak Obama entered White House in 2008 after 8 years of President Bush had pushed US economy into depression that in turn ruined the world economy because of two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Obama decided to be presidential upon assuming office. Hence he owned everything his predecessor left on his plate including the two wars although by that time, public opinion in USA had already shifted against the wars because of the humungous costs, both financial and in terms of lives of US men/women in uniform lost. Instead, President Obama who as a rookie Senator from Illinois from 2005 till he became the President, had opposed the wars, decided to send additional troops to Afghanistan and took time to end US involvement in Iraq thus allowing the economy to bleed further.
President Obama had other ideas in mind as the country’s first African-American President for which he even set aside what most politicians would have done almost naturaly; update the nation on the poor state of the union he inherited. He thought his destiny was to carve for himself a name as one of the country’s great presidents. His role model was President Abraham Lincoln who attained immortality for the way he united a nation torn by civil war through political bipartisanism. President Obama like President Obama believed that bipartisanship was of the need of the hour to unite the nation that President Bush had divided. He thus accepted bipartisanship as his guide to presidential glory.
He thus gave the key post in his cabinet, that of the Secretary of Defence in his first term to a Republican and it is a Republican again who holds that office in his present term. Till 2010, President Obama did not feel how serious was the opposition to his administration and to him personally because the Democrats held the majority in the Senate as well as the House. President Obama began to see the true face of his opponents once the Republicans gained majority of the House in the November, 2010 elections. They made it a policy to oppose the President to make it difficult for his administration to achieve and bills proposed by the White House were turned down routinely simply because they did not want to work with him. President Obama wanted to make his name in US history by bringing the country’s 50 million poor; unprivileged and uninsured under an affordable heath insurance. He was able to enact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while the democrats held the House. The Republicans took the ACA to court and when the Supreme Court vacated the case in 2013, they refused to fund the federal government and stopped it for 11 days to impede the implementation of the ACA.
That effort failed and ACA was implemented. The Republicans have now passed the resolution to take the President to court for not implementing parts of the ACA underlining so far their relationship with the President is concerned; to them he is damned if he does and damned if he does not. The President who had entered the White House with faith in bipartisanship as his guiding principle in politics found to his dismay as he started his second term that his opponents were determined to condemn him to the list of the country’s all time worst presidents and had little intention of working with his administration. In fact, there are many who are now convinced that the Republicans are articulating the views of the country’s large conservative base that have never felt comfortable with an African American President in the White House with visions of becoming a great American President.
By their actions, the Republicans have trashed the vision of the founding fathers of the US constitution of a government of checks and balances among the 3 branches of the government to encourage them to cooperate rather than dominate one another and enhance democracy and democratic ways of governance. The Republicans by their deliberate policy not to work with the President, have pushed the President to fall upon his power to issue executive order to run the government by bypassing the Congress because important issue of national interest related to the economy, taxation, immigration needed to be resolved.
President Obama’s presidency has thus turned full circle; from bipartisanship in the Congress to according to New York Times “ moving assertively and in private to fashion government policies by executive order on issues ranging from immigration to tax law”. The White House has made it clear that where the Congress is willing to work with the President, it would go there but where the Congress showed unreasonable opposition, it would depend on all means available to the President including executive order to move the administration’s agenda along. In fact, lobbyists/pressure groups/stakeholders who were seen in the Congress not too long ago are now engaged with the White House for furthering the interests of those they represent. And for the White House, it is not issuing executive orders at will but through deliberations and consultations with the stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the president’s opponents have been incensed by the use of executive orders. There was already a resolution by the House to take the President to court and Republicans have now threatened to impeach him over the use of executive orders. Presidents in the past have used executive order to move their administration along. President Bush issued 291 executive orders and President Bill Clinton 395 compared to President Obama’s 184 to date. Past Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman issued many times more. Unfortunately, past Presidents issued executive orders not to challenge the Congress; President Obama has been compelled to issue these orders because the Congress has decided not to let his administration work.
The President is in no fear of impeachment yet as the Democrats hold the Senate. But the heat is increasing and present politics in Washington suggests for the first time that the US Government as designed by the founding fathers where the Congress would makes the laws and the President execute them, is falling apart. The fault lies in both but the Congress started the process of falling apart by refusing to work with the President thus violating the spirit with which the founding fathers had written the constitution. The President who desperately wanted to work with Congress in a spirit of Lincoln inspired bipartisanship challenged the Congress out of need rather than design. With elections due in the Congress due in November, the President’s predicament could be worse if the Republicans are able to get the Senate while holding on to the House. He could then indeed face impeachment over the use of executive orders.
Meanwhile the President’s predicament has worsened with James Foley’s beheading that occurred while he was on vacation. He played golf right after speaking to James Foley’s mother and when it enraged even his supporters on issue of insensitivity, the President played golf again to prove a point to ISIS that threats do not work with his administration that convinced only people still deeply devoted to him. The pressure on President Obama increased when David Cameron threatened war against ISIS but he appeared confused and admitted that his administration had no policy on how to deal with the ISIS crisis. The president’s confusion encouraged the resolve of the Republicans to make his tenure as difficult as possible. Even some Democrats have joined the Republicans against the President leading the media to describe the President Obama’s current predicament with that of a deer suddenly caught before the headlights.
A tense fight is underway in US politics between the White House and Congress without any clear winner yet where US’ way of conducting politics in a democratic way is being dented. There is neither any winner yet nor signs of compromise. The November Congress elections may provide the winner or the answer.
The writer is a retired career Ambassador and his email id is firstname.lastname@example.org
Impeaching the Judges: A few facts
M. Serajul Islam
The cabinet has set the ball rolling for another amendment to the Constitution, the 16th. It approved the draft of the proposed amendment in a cabinet meeting recently. Under the proposed amendment, the parliament would regain its power to impeach the judges that was originally given to it by the 1972 Constitution that it lost subsequently through the amendment to the constitution.
The cabinet decision has since become a major subject of discussion everywhere because it has introduced a new controversial issue in the public domain. Talk Shows and newspaper columnists have gone overboard over it. In the Talk Shows and newspaper columns, the pro AL participants and columnists have supported the government’s move as a positive one for a number of reasons. First, they argued it would strengthen the sovereignty of the parliament that is the spirit of the 1972 Constitution. Second, they further argued that it would be a positive move towards reinstating the historic 1972 Constitution in its pristine glory.
The pro-AL Talk Show participants and newspaper columnists are right in a way. In many countries under the parliamentary system, the power of impeachment of the judges rests with the parliament. In next-door India, article 126 of its constitution gives the parliament that power. Nevertheless, the explanations in defence of the proposed 16th amendment are too simplistic and do not reflect the context in which these are being argued. They are defending the proposed amendment by going into denial over nature and composition of the present parliament, the timing of the proposed amendment and the current state of politics in the country. If these were brought into the equation, their simple and seemingly justified explanations would not stand to serious scrutiny. In particular, scrutiny would show that the parliament lost its power to impeach the judges by an amendment by the AL government and the opposition had nothing to do with it.
The first problem in giving the parliament the power to impeach the judges lies in Article 70 of the Constitution that defeats the context in which the ruling part/government has argued the need of the proposed 16th amendment. Article 70 stipulates that members of parliament would lose their membership if they vote on any issue against the party’s decision conveyed to them by the Party Whip. Under this power, the parliament would become the judge, jury and prosecution while impeaching a judge following the enactment of the proposed 16th amendment. Even if mechanisms were built in the proposed 16th amendment to safeguard the interests of the judge facing impeachment; his/her fate would still be decided by the decision of the ruling party communicated through the Whip. With Article 70 remaining in the Constitution, the proposed 16th amendment would give politics precedence over justice and force judges to toe the line of the ruling party, thus destroying the independence of the judiciary that has also been guaranteed by the constitution.
The second problem for the proposed 16th amendment arises from the nature of the present parliament. With the issue of legitimacy hanging over it like the Sword of Damocles, with 154 of its 300 members without a single vote to show, arguing that giving the present parliament the right to impeach the judges would restore the sovereignty of the people makes no sense because this parliament does not reflect the will or wishes of the people. Further, the ruling Awami League did not seek any mandate of the people for such a fundamental change in the constitution to empower the parliament that would destroy the independence of the higher judiciary. Therefore, it cannot be argued that restoring the right of parliament in its present state to impeach judges would be democratic. In fact, no one without political motive would argue that the present parliament deserves to be given such a power.
The politics surrounding the proposed 16th amendment makes it most controversial. Ruling party leaders have said that the power to impeach the judges was taken away from the 1972 Constitution by President Ziaur Rahman and given to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to make the judges happy for backing the changes after August 15, 1975. This is not correct. The power was taken in 1974 through the 4th amendment and given to the President. Ziaur Rahman became President in 1977. In fact, he could have benefitted from the 4th amendment. Therefore he should be given credit for doing something that no one else in power has done in the country’s history. He gave up the President’s power to impeach the judges to the Supreme Judicial Council.
It should also not be forgotten, that the 4th amendment ended the parliamentary system and introduced the presidential one. Therefore the parliament was no longer sovereign when Ziaur Rahman assumed political power and the power to impeach the judges by then had already been given to the President. Therefore, Ziaur Rahman could not have given the parliament the power to impeach judges that it had under the 1972 constitution because it would not have made sense to do so to a parliament that was no longer sovereign. President Ziaur Rahman did the best thing he could have in terms of making the government he had inherited less dictatorial; he created the SJC and handed to it the power that he could have exercised himself.
Therefore the initiative of the government to give the parliament the right to impeach judges has caused many eyebrows to be raised in the country. There are many who do not see any necessity at the moment for it to do so. They feel that the judges have shown their willingness to back the ruling party without showing any signs to oppose or embarrass it. Former Chief Justice Khairul Huq, the architect of the controversial 15th amendment and now the Chairman of the Law Commission came to the media and gave the government’s initiative a carte blanche. He did not do his good name any credit by doing so but nevertheless underlined that the present parliament is under no threat from the judiciary in its dominance over the country’s government and politics.
Therefore many are curious why would the ruling party initiate a move that raises so many questions about its intentions, particularly on timing. The answer lies in what Ministers and AL political leaders have said repeatedly in the media leading to the cabinet decision o the proposed 16th amendment; that they intend to remain in power till 2019 and beyond. The judiciary is still the guardian of the constitution and therefore could be a threat to such a desire of the ruling party however benign it may seem prima facae. The proposed 16th amendment would take care of that possibility. Past experiences of governments with adding to its powers to remain in power indefinitely have boomeranged. In its 1972-75 term, the AL had enacted the Special Powers Act of 1974 but became its victim. The BNP had given the police the power for permitting political meetings in Dhaka and the ruling party has used this power against it very effectively so far.
The proposed 16th amendment could provide a future BNP government the handle to mould the judiciary largely pro-Awami League to its advantage that would be harmful for democracy. Readers interested on a detailed analysis of the right to impeach the judges in the context of the 1972 Constitution should read a very thought provoking article “ Fourth Amendment to the Constitution: A Review” that appeared in the Financial Express’ issue of July 20, 2013 in its Feature and Analysis section. All arguments in favour and against the proposed 16th amendment apart, it has already created considerable unhealthy controversy. Given the fact that parliaments worldwide have impeached judges only in a blue moon (in India, it has happened only twice in over six decades), one must wonder why the government has decided to initiate the 16th amendment at a time when it could do very well with every bit of public confidence in its intentions and its governance when the judges should be the least of its worries.
The writer is a retired career Ambassador. His email is email@example.com