School of Law, Brac University, organised the Webinar 'Access to Justice during Covid-19: South Asian perspective and practice' on May 17, 2020. This is the first event of the webinar series bringing panelists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan with the idea of sharing the views and practices of respective judiciaries in providing access to justice during the pandemic.
The event was kicked off by the key note address of Professor K Shamsuddin Mahmood, Dean of School of Law. He focused on the commitments of countries under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in providing access to justice and cited the example of inauguration of virtual court system in Bangladesh as a praiseworthy endeavour. Assistant Professor Ravi Prakash Vyas of Kathmandu Law School shared how the Nepal judiciary has entertained habeas corpus petitions despite the lockdown. He raised the issue of the migrant workers' safety and asked for regional cooperation in this regard.
Aastha Tripati, Advocate of Jharkhand High Court mentioned about the modalities of current virtual court proceedings in both upper and lower tiers of judiciary of India. The speaker opined that this practice is a reflection of the commitment under the Constitution of India of ensuring access to justice. Mir Adnaan Rahman, a renowned academician from Pakistan shared the experience of Pakistan judiciary in the present crisis. He emphasised the similarity of challenges among South Asian nations and urged for mutual collaboration. Barrister Sharmin Akhter, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, discussed the newly started virtual court proceedings in Bangladesh and their modus operandi. She also raised concerns about domestic violence in this challenging time and urged for taking steps to tackle this.
Saimum Reza Talukder, Senior Lecturer of Brac University pointed out the challenges about availing virtual court proceedings for the marginalised and poor communities. He argued that access to technology is a prior condition in ensuring access to justice.
Md. Mostafa Hosain, Assistant Professor of Brac University designed and moderated the event. He summarised that the commitment of providing justice particularly to the poor cannot be denied under any circumstances. He concluded that ideas shared in the event should be carried forward so that the States of this region work together in combating challenges while taking benefit from each other's' good practices. Faculty members of School of Law have also joined and participated in the discussion.
The writer is Assistant Professor of Law, Brac University.