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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 248
July 29, 2006

This week's issue:
Human Rights Analysis
Law Opinion
Law Letter
Law Event
Human Rights Monitor
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Law Letter

Jurisdiction of family courts: Some thoughts

This is in response to the write-up under the abovementioned title by M A Mannan Khan published in the law and our rights page of The Daily Star on July 08, 2006. I want to express my gratitude to Mr. M A Mannan Khan that a busy lawyer like him has endured to read and respond to my write-up. In fact, he has saved me by doing an excellent job that I should have been done.

I don't feel shy to admit that I was with the ambiguity regarding the jurisdiction of the family courts even until the March of 2006 when I became familiar with the case of Pochon Rikssi Dass vs Khuku Rani Dasi 50 DLR (1998) 47. Since then I was feeling like writing on this again to oppose my own opinion in the previous write-up.

As a matter of fact, I wrote the write-up at a time when I was busy with dealing with a cluster of family laws issues, where the ambiguity as to jurisdiction of the family court came to me as a very crucial issue. At that time I had been working for Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and almost every week I was attending different issue raising and advocacy meetings arranged by BLAST's branch offices in different district level, hence I got opportunities to meet with a good number of practicing lawyers and acting judges working throughout the country. Whenever I met with the lawyers and judges, I wilfully brought the issue of jurisdiction of family court before them. And surprisingly, yes really surprisingly, none of them could give me any satisfactory answer regarding this. Then I decided to write on this. As a preliminary task I consulted to the law reports like DLR, BLD, BLC, MLR, and BLT i.e. almost all the reports kept in BLAST library. I studied all the relevant judgments I found. Now I cannot understand how this case from 50 DLR (no doubt the most important case) escaped from my eyes. May be, the issue of DLR was out of Library, or may be it was my limitation.

However, just three months ago while I was consulting to 50 DLR for another purpose I suddenly came across the case of Pochon Rikssi, read and found the position of family court jurisdiction clear. From then I was thinking to write on this but could not able because of my business.

However, I should have written on it despite of my business, as earlier I had expressed, though unknowingly, wrong opinion. Finally I thank Mr M A Mannan again for the pains he took in addressing the issue of great public importance.

I could not help mentioning a fact, which I think M A Mannan Khan would not believe in, that still a large portion of lawyers and even judges dealing with the family courts are not clear about the jurisdiction. Hence comes a question who is to make them aware of the latest position?

In the judgment of BLAST vs Bangladesh (Juvenile Trial Case) 7 BLC 85 , there was direction upon the Registrar of the Supreme Court to send a copy of the judgment and order to all Sessions Judges of the country advising them to discuss on the Children Act, 1974 with judicial officials working under their respective judgeship.

Unlike in the judgment of BLAST vs Bangladesh (Juvenile Trial Case) 7 BLC 85, in the judgment of Pochon Rikssi Dass vs Khuku Rani Dasi 50 DLR (1998) 47 there was no direction to the Registrar of the Supreme Court or to anybody else to inform the judges and others concerned with the family courts countrywide about the path finding judgment.

It would be nice if there was any such direction! I wonder, in absence of such direction whom the duty to disseminate such an important judgment lies with?

-- Zahidul Islam, legal researcher, Shahbag, Dhaka.


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