Md Abdul Hamid Khan (44) from Fulbaria in Mymensingh was detained in Mymensingh jail since March 4 in a case filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.
On March 24, Sirajganj Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal Judge Fazle Md Nazir granted him bail in the case, filed in Sirajganj over torturing his wife, and ordered the authorities concerned to release him from custody. But Hamid did not get released from jail until April 22 as relevant documents did not reach the jail authorities due to the shutdown enforced to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 22, one Abul Hasnat Khan called the national helpline 16430 of the legal aid office under law ministry and sought help to release Hamid, his uncle.
The same day, the office communicated with Judge Nazir, as well as authorities at Sirajganj and Mymensingh. Sirajganj Jail Super Al Mamun sent relevant documents to senior jail super, who released Hamid from custody, law ministry sources said.
This is how the law ministry has been helping the underprivileged get legal aid without any cost. Some 6,106 people received legal aid through the helpline from April 12 to August 3, sources said.
The law ministry launched the helpline in 2016, and has now kept it open round the clock for the poor.
The ministry is providing the service through its National Legal Aid and Services Organisation (NLASO) and its district legal aid offices across the country.
Masuda Yeasmin, assistant director of NLASO, told The Daily Star on August 3 that anyone can call the toll-free number for legal advice. Replying to a question, she said several people communicate through the helpline every day.
Law Minister Anisul Huq is looking over the activities, and giving necessary directives to the offices concerned, she added.
The government has provided legal aid to 5,21,481 poor people in last six years (since 2014-2015 fiscal till July this year) at its own cost; 1,28,309 legal aid related cases were disposed of through NLASO during the period. Besides, 20,476 people got legal aid from Supreme Court through the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee (SCLAC) during this period, according to sources.
SCLAC has provided legal assistance to 216 underprivileged prisoners, who had been in different jails for over five, seven and 10 years, SCLAC sources said. A total of 78,500 disadvantaged prisoners were given legal support since 2014-2015 fiscal till July this year, a law ministry study report said.
The NLASO has collected Tk 38.25 crore by settling 29,001 cases through alternative dispute resolution system and gave the money to the victims of those cases.