Only 13 percent people of Bangladesh prefer going to courts to get justice, and the rest, despite having faith in the judiciary, would rather have community leaders solve their issues, according to Justice Audit Bangladesh 2018.
The country’s courts have a backlog of 34 lakh cases and the situation could have been “different” if everyone went to the courts with their issues, said the audit conducted last year in all 64 districts.
The law ministry in association with GIZ, a German organisation working on international cooperation, UK Aid, and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) carried out the audit claimed to be the first of its kind in the world.
The findings were unveiled during a seminar at the Supreme Court Auditorium in Dhaka yesterday.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said inadequate number of judges and the growing number of new cases were the reasons behind the huge case backlog.
Speaking as the chief guest, he said he would sit with judges within a month to prepare a plan for solving the issue.
The report said the number of cases pending with chief judicial magistrates’ courts increased 14 percent between 2016 and 2017. At the sessions’ judges’ courts and the High Court Division, pending cases rose 16 and nine percent during the same period.
If the growth of pending cases continued at this pace, the audit projected that by 2022, chief judicial magistrates’ courts, sessions’ judges’ courts and the High Court Division would have 72, 82, and 89 percent of the cases before it pending.
The backlogs cause unbearable sufferings to justice seekers and increases the “prison population” rapidly, the audit report said.
Currently, the country’s prisons have twice the inmates their capacity even though crime has not increased that much, it said.
The audit found that most rural people prefer to seek justice from community and local representatives, like union parishad chairman, and village court as they consider this process is less complex and faster than courts.
Presenting the findings, Promita Sengupta, one of the researchers involved in audit, said the data of the audit were collected from citizens and courts of all districts.
“It opens an opportunity to find what the problems are and where the diagnosis is needed in the judiciary. You have to find the solution now,” said Promita, a programme head of GIZ.
Justice Muhammad Imman Ali, chairman of the Supreme Court Judicial Reform Committee, said the audit unveiled the actual situation.
“Under our constitution, we are all bound to ensure rule of law and fundamental rights of the people.”
Michael Schultheiss, chargé d’affaires of the German embassy; and Judith Herbertson, head of the department for international development of the UK, also spoke at the programme.