Judicial Strengthening

What is the project about?

Judicial StrengtheningThe JUST project has raised awareness notably on the 10,000 cases pending in the Family Courts in Dhaka and on how mediation can resolve such cases. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

Strengthening the formal justice system and the rule of law is a priority for the Government of Bangladesh. There is increasing demand for improvements in the administration of timely, affordable and accessible justice. One of the key constraints facing the justice sector is the slow disposal rate and corresponding build-up of a large case backlog. The backlog is placing considerable pressure on the sector and is hampering access to justice. It is also symptomatic of a number of other issues, including complex procedures and a lack of effective judicial administration. 

In this context, the Supreme Court and UNDP launched a joint initiative – the Judicial Strengthening (JUST) project – to support the judiciary to improve its capacity to administer the court system and reduce case backlogs. The UNDP’s partnership with the Supreme Court has since June 2012 worked to improve access to justice and court services in Bangladesh, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.  In addition to its existing locations (Dhaka, Kisherogonji and Rangamati), in 2014 JUST has expanded to include Rajshahi, and Rangpur to scale up its successes and best practices to reach more of the population.

What have we accomplished so far?

Some considerable progress within JUST output framework has been made in last two and half years as stated below:

• Through successful piloting, JUST achieved adoption of the first Bangladesh’s national policy and platform on case management for improved access to justice. On 25 September 2014, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh issued a practice direction to establish case management committees across the country with funding and assigned coordination points by the courts. Since February 2013, JUST in partnership with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh have been operating Case Management Committees in three pilot district courts of Dhaka, Kishoregancj and Rangamati to identify and test innovative solutions in better managing case processes. This initiative have resulted in increased disposal rate from 74 percent to 98 percent thus improving court services for people. (Read story: http://www.dhakatribune.com/juris/2014/dec/11/case-management-committee-reduce-backlog-cases )

• Improving access to basic services and transparency in the courts a cause list for clients available on a web-based and SMS platform has been introduced. Training for 105 judges and bench officials has improved the accessibility of case related data available via online and mobile phones. A data centre with mobile telephony technology functions has also been established in the Supreme Court to ensure greater accessibility and transparency. Clients and representatives can track information on cases remotely at www.bdcourts.gov.bd  and it has encouraged better data and performance data collection assisting improve the quality of oversight of courts. This service has received 300,000 hits in 2014 since its launch.  Based on the pilot initiatives UNDP assisted the Supreme Court to develop “E@sy Justice 2021” ICT Strategy and to expand this system to all districts of Bangladesh by signing an MOU with government’s A2I programme.

• A Judicial Leadership Programme (JLP) has been instituted at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to augment judicial reform through strengthening capacity of senior justices. This leadership programme, the first of its kind in Bangladesh, focuses on leadership development, change management, code of conduct, disciplinary procedures and strategic planning. Two seminars and one workshop conducted for the 132 senior justices of the Supreme Court were conducted in 2014 (Read story: http://www.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=0&id=409036$date=2014-05-11&dateCurrent=2014-05-17)

• Promoted women and children rights by application of mediation in family disputes. In 2014, JUST has organized a series of awareness raising workshops and training of trainers sessions, involving 280 (780 since 2012) judges and lawyers increasing knowledge and expertise in mediating disputes. As a result of the initiative, a total of 1,420 cases resolved by mediation in 2014, an increase of 6 percent over 2013. This increase is nearly 49 percent over baseline data (956 in 2012 (Read story: http://www.justbd.org/just/news.php?news_id=n5343661350). It has developed and prototyped innovative approach for improved access to court services for women justice seekers (waiting rooms). Read story: http://www.justbd.org/just/news.php?news_id=n9960397589 

• Both at national level and in pilot district courts pending and backlog cases are reduced. In the pilot districts out of a total of 347,261 cases submitted 333,371 cases have been disposed of in 2014 representing a 96 percent disposal rate. Of these 37, 922 were civil cases, 295,449 were criminal including 288, 365 related to non-gender based violence and there were 7,084 gender based violence cases. In the Supreme Court, however, 27,479 cases were disposed of from 60,807 received representing a regression to 45 percent in 2014 down from 52 percent in 2013. In 2014 in the civil courts a total number of 208,571 people have had better access to justice as a result of the increase in rates of case disposal due to cases on average being comprised of 5.5 parties according to surveys.

• On an individual experience level there have been cost savings and satisfaction ratings have improved. In 2014 there were cost savings including legal fees and travel and time savings of court users that amounted to BDT 15,120 (USD 195) per case according to the court users' satisfaction survey in 2014. Court user satisfaction monitoring shows that 45 percent litigants are now satisfied with the experience on the day of interview, an increase from 21 percent in 2013, recorded in the baseline survey.

• A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Bangladesh Institute of Management (BIM) providing management training and services support to the judiciary to install modern management systems and procedures at the Supreme Court and district courts. The management training will link case management issues to enhance overall management capacity of the judges. A total of 519 judicial officers have been trained in 2014. A similar agreement with Judicial Administration Training Institute (JATI) has also been signed to incorporate case management courses and mediation course in the JATI curriculum. JUST also provided training to:

- 180 lawyers of Dhaka and Kishoreganj on mediation tools and techniques

- 120 judges and court staff on ICT, 

- 80 Bench Officers of SC on English language in drafting and using legal terminology.  

- 20 Senior Staff of Registrar Office on Management 

- 20 Senior Staff of Registrar Office and court staff of SC on ICT 

- 108 Bench Officer on ICT and Court Room technology.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
UNDP $ 4,000,000
Government of Bangladesh $ 150,000

Delivery in previous fiscal years

Year  Amount
2015 (till Sep) $ 433,005
2014 $ 1,136,574
2013 $ 1,124,095
2012 $ 671,471

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