Village courts can promptly settle disputes

Rahman Jahangir | Published: January 12, 2016 22:39:06 | Updated: October 23, 2017 15:51:05


At a time when courts are overburdened with huge backlog of cases, criminal and civil, the overwhelming majority of people are not still aware of the fact that there is a village court under the jurisdiction of a Union Parishad. Many trivial disputes could be settled by such courts if these are promoted by upazila chairmen. 
All the UP chairmen should be directed to submit a progress report on settlement of disputes by the village courts in every 15 days to  upazila chairman. Subsequent steps can then be taken as to whether these unresolved cases are fit to be transferred to district courts.   
And because of inordinate delay in disposal of cases in courts due to valid reasons, justice is denied. 
On the other hand, both tiers of lower and upper judiciary in Bangladesh are overstrained with more than 2.5 million civil and criminal cases which could be resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This could reduce the pressure on all tiers of the courts. Critical problems like cost, complexity and delay of adversarial litigation procedure can effectively be reduced by mere introduction of arbitration, mediation, negotiation, conciliation and other forms of ADR in our laws and court systems. In addition, mindset and culture of litigation should be changed to bring an effective solution for easy access to justice for dispute-affected poor and marginal people. There must, therefore, be wide implementation of ADR mechanisms to decrease the backlog of cases in our country.
This is because arbitration and mediation are easier process in comparison to formal court proceedings and it is much less time-consuming  also. This could offer a new door for the young lawyers to boost up their careers. Further, it is time to introduce the ADR course in legal studies.
The load of courts -- already cluttered with huge piles of cases -- increases further with village courts and ADR still left to the backyard. The end result is that the slow pace of case disposal becomes even slower.  Obviously, backlog of cases not only denies citizens their right to justice but also negates the whole concept of the rule of law. The judiciary, though a vitally important organ of the state, remains an area where little investment has been made since we became independent. The judges still have to sit in the crammed, ill-equipped rooms that were used in the distant past and that are no longer suitable for dealing with larger numbers of people seeking justice and the much greater volume of work.  So the judiciary needs capacity-building on the basis of a sound plan. 
Training of judges in view of their job turning more and more challenging and computerisation of the whole judicial process are needed to enhance the efficiency of the system. In other words, technological support commensurate with their work must be provided to the judges. Quick disposal of cases is greatly obstructed when police investigation proceeds at a snail's pace. Police officers who initiate cases are found to be lacking in legal expertise which can influence the whole course of legal proceedings in a very negative manner. The police do not have the necessary forensic skill which turns out to be a major flaw. Some investment has been made to modernise the police force, but the judiciary is still functioning with its limited resources and manpower that are hopelessly inadequate. 
arjayster@gmail.com
 

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