Ensuring citizen's legal rights protection is one of the constitutional responsibilities for the Government of Bangladesh. With a view to providing legal aid to the poor and underprivileged, the government has enacted the Legal Aid Services Act in 2000. To uphold citizen's constitutional right to access to justice, the USAID's Justice for All Program and the National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) jointly organised a launching ceremony of the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office on 8 September 2015, with the presence of Chief Justice of Bangladesh Mr. Surendra Kumar Sinha. Drawing the present scenario of judicial backlog, the chief guest of the ceremony Mr. Chief Justice Sinha in his speech stated that the government has introduced the legal aid service programme to provide the litigants with free legal assistance. He hoped that the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office will ensure access to legal aid for the poor, distressed and underprivileged section of the society.
The NLASO Chairman, Mr. Justice Nizamul Hauqe Nasim opined that between 2009 and 2015, the NLASO has provided free legal aid to 1797 individuals across the country. He also commented that as of now, any applicant meeting requirements as per law, can submit an application to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee to avail free legal aid. After scrutinising the application, the authority appoints a lawyer on behalf of the applicant to conduct his or her case at free of cost. The lawyer's fees are borne by the government.
The USAID Mission Director Janina Jaruzelski encouraged the new legal aid office to focus its efforts for the protection of the rights of the unprivileged by ensuring their equal access to justice.
Among other attendees addressing the inaugural ceremony were Mr. Mahbub-A-Alam, the Attorney-General of Bangladesh; Mr. Malik Abdulla Al-Amin, the Director of NLASO; and Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The ceremony was also graced by the presence of eminent lawyers and jurists of the country.
The event was covered by Hasna Begum , Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh.