In quest of rebuilding Justice delivery system
Mohammad Golam Sarwar
Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
In Bangladesh the prevailing justice system is relatively in accessible for the vast majority of the people. Rights of individuals are violated tremendously without incurring the sense of justice. There are about 2 million backlogged cases in the district courts putting considerable pressure on the management of court system and hindering access to justice.
The paucity of judges, lack of infrastructural facilities, procedural complexities and lack of effective case management are contributing factors for delayed justice which is tantamount to denial of justice. The denial of justice is more acute among vulnerable sections of the society including women and children causing human poverty to a large extent.
To come out from this scenario, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has taken initiatives to strengthen the capacity of the court and to reduce the case backlogs. The project under the title of Judicial Strengthening (JUST) has undertaken with the belief that the reduction of the case backlogs would provide sustainable foundation to improve access to justice to the public particularly vulnerable groups of people. This project primarily selects three pilot districts namely Kishoreganj, Rangamati, and Dhaka considering the burden of case backlogs within the locality.
On part of this, Judicial Strengthening (JUST) Project Pilot District Inception workshop was held on September 27, 2012 at Kishoreganj for creating broader understanding and disseminating information on the project activities.
Mr. Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain, Hon'able Chief Justice of Bangladesh graced the occasion as the Chief Guest while Mr. Stefan Priesner, Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh, among others attended as Special Guest.
The only true principle for humanity is justice; and protection of rights of the vulnerable groups that is women, children, and persons with disability is the true manifestation of justice in a society. Judiciary should aggressively pursue this to establish rule of law, peace and prosperity in the society, said Mr. Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain while addressing the gathering.
Mr. Stefan Priesner stressed in his speech on a well-functioning justice sector which is a pre-condition for social peace and harmony to expedite human development and economic growth. He added that, Justice is an area of increasing importance in development cooperation and UNDP views it as closely related human development and poverty eradication and as a support for human rights.
While talking with this writer Mr. Priesner informed about the successful functioning of village courts in Kishoreganj which is undertaken to enable the poor, women and vulnerable groups to seek remedies for injustices and access a fair and effective justice system at the local level, where disputes can be resolved in a prompt, transparent and affordable manner.
Village Courts are also playing a strong role in reducing case backlogs by reducing the burden on the formal justice system and at the same playing complementing role in terms of access to justice. With the strong commitment from Supreme Court case backlogs have reduced by 80,000 within one year in the Dhaka District, he informed.
About raising capability approach of local people and empowering their voice against discrimination and injustice, UNDP has taken awareness raising campaign in the locality through courtyard meeting which is arranged fortnightly, local field worker informed.
Within the village courts, justice is delivered in the consonance with the process of restorative justice without incurring stigma or sanction upon the parties where parties have an active role and right to participate in the adjudication process, Mr. Priesner told.
Making a justice system affordable and successful is a formidable challenge which can be ensured through the cooperation of concerned person. With the words of Mr. Priesner it can be concluded that proper and effective functioning of village courts and making the case management system effective and sustainable, Bangladesh can come out from the curse of case backlogs and can get rid of the delayed justice process. Only then the justice delivery system of this country can bring light in imparting justice without making any delay because it is profound that “Justice delayed is Justice denied.”
The writer works with Law desk, The Daily Star.