Law commission

Bangladesh suspends 26 Law Commission proposals on backlog

The government has only implemented one of the 27 recommendations made by the Laws Commission mainly to clear up the huge backlog of cases before the Supreme Court and lower courts while the others remain to be implemented despite seven years have, in the meantime, elapsed.

Restoring Parliament’s power to dismiss Supreme Court justices was also among the recommendations made by the commission chaired by former Chief Justice Khairul Haque on June 26, 2014.

On September 17, 2014, the government amended the country’s constitution to restore Jatiya Sangsad’s power to remove SC judges on the grounds of incapacity or misconduct by repealing the provision for the removal of judges on the recommendation of the Council supreme judiciary headed by the chief justice.

The Supreme Court subsequently revived the Superior Council of the Judiciary while the government requested a review of the decision.

But other recommendations, largely for a speedy resolution of outstanding cases, have yet to be put into practice, lawyers and court officials say.

On May 21, 2014, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs asked the Law Commission to develop recommendations aimed at reducing the number of cases pending before the courts.

Of the commission’s 27 recommendations, 14 are related to the backlog of cases with lower courts while the other 13 relate to the Supreme Court.

The 14 recommendations for lower courts include appointing 3,000 more judges, their support staff, stenographers for all judges, and building more courtrooms with computer facilities in every district.

One recommendation is that subordinate court judges should sit in court at 9:30 a.m. and continue until 4:30 p.m. with a one-hour kick-off break.

Another recommendation called on all district judges to prohibit all district judges from leaving their places of work without prior permission from the Registrar General of the Supreme Court, since most of them leave their places of work work every weekend and sit in court late on Sundays.

District and metropolitan session judges are required to hold four conferences a year with their junior judges, while chief judicial magistrates and chief metropolitan magistrates have been asked to hold a conference every month with their junior judges to resolve their issues.

Pronouncement of judgment in a criminal case within seven days of the completion of the hearing was also suggested by the commission for speedy resolution of trials.

One of the recommendations calls on the government to enact legislation to ensure the protection of prosecution witnesses because the lack of their security could lead to the acquittal of offenders.

An equitable distribution of cases among the sessional courts, the appointment of honest and competent retired judges on a contractual basis in consultation with the Supreme Court, and the assignment of honest and competent judges to the rank of district judge were also recommended. to reduce the backlog of cases.

The commission’s recommendation to establish a “permanent investigative agency” in the interest of a fair investigation was also not implemented.

The commission noted that the investigators of a police station cannot complete the investigations entrusted to them within the time limits, as stipulated in article 167 of the code of criminal procedure, because they must remain occupied with other business of the police station.

The 13 recommendations the commission made for the speedy resolution of cases by the Supreme Court include the formation of a cell chaired by the Chief Justice to monitor the reasons for the increase in the filing of new cases and the delay in the resolution pending cases.

Judges have been advised to consider the merits of a case before it is heard and summarily dismiss it if they find no merit, according to another recommendation.

The President of the Supreme Court was advised with a recommendation to strictly control the rate of settlement of cases by each panel and to introduce the system of “summary dismissal”.

The Law Commission finds it necessary to sue a judge for misconduct if it appears to the Chief Justice that the judge has made a decision in a case without merit.

One of the recommendations suggested that the Chief Justice, with the exception of his participation in the hearings of special and urgent cases, should devote the majority of his time to the control of all the courts and to the making of decisions concerning the administrative affairs.

The commission has alerted the judges that no criminal cases pending trial can remain pending in the High Court or lower courts for an indefinite period contributing to the backlog of cases.

The commission said it is undesirable for a criminal case to remain in abeyance for an unidentified period pending investigation.

He recommended that a new case be scheduled to be heard in series by maintaining the date of its filing to eliminate the possibility of court officers manipulating the series of cases.

As there are allegations of corruption against senior HC officers, they should be monitored full time and moved from bench to bench regularly while the Anti-Corruption Commission should be allowed to carry out independent investigations into the allegations. brought against them.

In 2014, the Parliamentary Standing Committee asked the Law Commission to make recommendations, as there were then some 28 lakh cases pending in the lower courts – including nine lakh in the magistrates’ courts – and 3, 25 lakh cases in the High Court.

There were 1,700 subordinate court judges and 90 High Court judges in 2014 while as of 29 July 2021, the number of subordinate court judges was 1,764 and the number of High Court judges was 92.

As of December 31, 2020, a total of 39,33,186 cases were pending in the courts nationwide – including 34,64,998 in the lower courts, 4,52,963 in the High Court and 15,225 in the Appellate Division, according to official statistics. .

Asked to comment on the non-implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations to address the backlog of cases, Justice Minister Anisul Huq said handling the Covid situation was now the government’s top priority .

“Could we do anything other than on the Covid issue over the last two years?” said the minister.

The government has increased the number of lower court judges in line with one of the recommendations, Anisul said, adding that the government intends to appoint more lower court judges soon.

Law Commission Chairman Khairul Haque declined to comment on the case.