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January 04, 2004 

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Administration of Justice in Bangladesh: A review

Mahmudul Islam

Administration of Justice in Bangladesh
Kazi Ebadul Hoque
Publisher: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
Published on : September 2003
Price : Tk. 400/-

Whatever may be the true content of 'rule of law', and the jurists differ greatly, the minimum is that a country is to be governed in accordance with law and the people should have access to the court for enforcement of their rights. If there is no effective way of enforcement, a law is merely a paper product not even worth the value of the paper on which it is written. There may be a set of laws defining rights of the people, but if the common man cannot seek enforcement of the rights, those rights merely embellish the paper on which they have been described and have no significance in real life. In the present day a common man is suffering not for the dearth of law, but for the lack of enforcement of it. It has become imperative to assess how far the administration of justice in our country is effective in enforcing the laws of the land.

In examining the worth of the existing state of the administration of justice, it is necessary first of all to examine how it was in the past and then to evaluate how it is in the present. Kazi Ebadul Hoque J, who had been long associated with the administration of justice of this country both as a lawyer and as a Judge of the highest tribunal, has gone to the history starting from the Mughal times and has presented a total picture of the administration of justice as of today in his book. The author directed his attention to the deficiencies for which the present-day administration of justice is failing to achieve the purpose for which it exists. He is explicit in stating the effect of the shortcomings in important spheres of life. He has exposed the evil consequences which are looming large, about which we are complacent. The author emphasised the necessity of efficient and honest judges and rightly commented, "If the judges of a country are not honest, independent, dutiful and efficient, the people of that country are deprived of the benefits of even good laws of the country." (p. 252). The author has spent a considerable space in suggesting measures for improvement of the administration of justice so that it can properly function to uphold the rule of law and create an atmosphere where the ordinary people may have access to justice. He has included some important statistics in the appendices which clearly demonstrate the urgent necessity of reform of the administration of justice.

There has been a continuing debate as regards measures to be adopted to improve the administration of justice. The Government has taken up a project of 'Judicial Capacity Building'. One may not agree with some of the proposal made by the author or may opine that the proposals are inadequate, but no one can gainsay the importance of the proposals which have been timely made and require serious consideration by all interested in the efficacy of the administration of justice.

In Chapter VI, the author has catalogued important decision handed down by the two Divisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Coming from an experienced lawyer and Judge, some critical comments about the trend of the decisions would have been very useful and welcome.

The printing of the book is neat. The cover design is attractive and the price is moderate.

Mahmudul Islam, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Former Attorney General for Bangladesh.

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