The Warrant of Precedence has not been amended till now although over five years have already passed since the Supreme Court released a full verdict in this regard.
Even the authorities concerned have not taken any initiative till now to begin the process of amending the Warrant of Precedence as per the directive of the apex court. So, the existing, as well as the old Warrant of Precedence, still remains effective.
Against this backdrop, a legal notice has been sent to the authorities concerned, seeking speedy initiative to amend the Warrant of Presidency as per the verdict of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, which released its full verdict on an appeal in 2016.
Barrister Mustasim Tanjir, a Supreme Court lawyer, sent the legal notice. Advocate Abu Taleb, another lawyer of the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, said that he sent the legal notice on behalf of Barrister Mustasim Tanjir on Monday (January 24).
The notice was sent to the Cabinet Secretary, two secretaries of Law Ministry, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the Registrar General of the Supreme Court.
In the notice, Attorney General, District Judge, judges, Bir Uttam, Bir Bikram, Bir Pratik and other Freedom Fighters, who received state awards, and other heroes who received awards for their outstanding contributions in different fields like as Ekushey Padak and Independence Medal winners were given rank in Warrant of Presidency as per judgment of the Supreme Court.
The respondents were asked to take the necessary steps within seven days. If any step is not taken in the time, a writ petition will be filed in the high court, says in the notice.
On January 11 in 2015, the Appellate Division delivered a short verdict after disposing of the appeal following a writ petition.
On November 10 in 2016, the apex court released the full text of its verdict. In the written verdict, the Supreme Court made the observation that the status of the chief justice should be equal to that of the Speaker of National Parliament.
Md Ataur Rahman, a former secretary general of Bangladesh Judicial Service Association, filed the writ petition on behalf of the organisation in 2006 with the High Court, saying that the Cabinet Division had framed the existing Warrant of Precedence in 1986 in an arbitrary manner, without evaluating the dignity and status of judicial officials.
Following the writ petition, the higher court on February 4 in 2010 declared that the existing Warrant of Precedence is illegal and void, and directed the government to issue a new Warrant of Precedence for the republic’s officers and to give district judges and equivalent judicial officers’ precedence over the chiefs of the armed forces, and government secretaries.
Later in 2011, the Cabinet Secretary had filed the appeal with the Appellate Division on behalf of the government, challenging the HC verdict.
The Warrant of Precedence or rank order of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a list of protocols or ranks of important officials of the executive, legislative and judicial organs of the state, including members of the foreign diplomats.
The Warrant of Precedence is generally used for the purpose of invitation of dignitaries to state and important official functions including their seating arrangement, and sequence of presence to receive and see off VIP such as the president or prime minister when they go abroad, and also to receive their counterparts within the country, according to Banglapedia.
President and Prime Minister enjoy the first and the second positions respectively as per the Warrant of Precedence. The Speaker holds the third position and the chief justice fourth. The Cabinet Secretary, Army, Navy and Air chiefs, and the principal secretary to the PM hold 12th position in the Warrant of Precedence.
The SC Supreme Court in its 2016 verdict directed the government to give district judges the status equivalent to that of government secretaries. The current position of district judges is 24th and that of secretaries is 16th position. Additional District Judges and members of the Judiciary of equal rank will be located right next to the District Judges, at No. 17 in the Warrant of Precedence.
The verdict says that since the constitution is the supreme law of the state, the importance of the constitutional office bearers should be kept at the beginning of the hierarchy of the state.
The verdict states that state hierarchy can only be used for state ceremonies. It should not be used in policy-making or any other activity.