Sharing South-South judicial knowledge

Nov 9, 2013

The database orientation training was conducted by the specialized trainers from Manupatra, a pioneer legal database market leader of India. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh.

By Kabir Hossain and Md. Reazul Al Masum

Recent developments in South-South cooperation have taken the form of increased volume of South-South trade, South-South flows of foreign direct investment, movements towards regional integration, technology transfers, sharing of solutions and experts, and other forms of exchanges. As part of South-South Cooperation, the Judicial Strengthening Project (JUST) provided access to the “Manupatra” Indian online legal database for the highest court judges.

The database orientation training was conducted by the specialized trainers from Manupatra, a pioneer legal database market leader of India that gives privileged access to its users and empowers them with in-depth legislative, regulatory and procedural information critical for decision making, without having to go to multiple sources.

“Excellent content, very resourceful and modern technological invention for the judges,” said Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain of the Appellate Division while participating in the orientation programme for online legal research database under the aegis of UNDP Bangladesh on November 9 at the Judges Lounge of Bangladesh Supreme Court.

Of 25 participants of the orientation program, 6 were honorable judges of the Appellate Division including the Chief Justice of Bangladesh, while the remaining 19 judges were the senior most judges from High Court Division.

‘I can find a list of all judgments on a particular subject within seconds. The reference judgments data of many countries can be found in this online database. Interestingly it covers a wide range of reference judgments from the sub-continent. For instance, if I search for ‘judgment 302’, in a few seconds, I am able to learn about related judgments on the subject of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India,” said Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque of the High Court Division.

Interest in the orientation was quite high and participating judges made requested the chief justice to organize such training, refreshers and orientation programmes on the legal database again.

Justice Imman Ali said, this online legal database access will help them write quality judgment and legal research as part of their daily work. In response, the Chief Justice Mr. Md. Muzammel Hossain said, “I am happy to learn that all of you have shown great interest in using the legal database. Considering the significance of the online database I would personally request the JUST project to provide this database access to all High Court judges.”

Mr. Deepak Kapoor, lead trainer and director of Manupatra said, “The great advantage of the site is that it contains most of the judgments of the sub-continent along with USA, UK and others”. Currently the site has fifty thousand internal subscribers around the globe and now is extending their efforts to develop a dedicated online database site for Bangladeshi users.

JUST Project has been supporting the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in digitizing and improving the case management system to reduce case backlogs and ensures access to justice for all. One of most important components of this is to increase the judge’s ability to research on relevant case law.

Bangladesh and India share inheritance of English common law and India is one of few counties in world who have established a solid research base library on legal matters and functioning under the Common Law system. Owing to this, the judges of Bangladesh have been actively following various references of Indian cases since the proclamation of the independence of Bangladesh.

Now, all the court cases information of the Indian Supreme Court is made available through online database system with the incorporation of technology. This online access will encourage the judges to undertake electronic research and provide an incentive way to utilize computers in their daily work.

Moving forward it is now mandatory to leverage these new South-South dynamics into development results. As the South has grown in economic and political strength, the UNDP mandate has become particularly urgent. With increasing calls on the international development community for greater action, this exchange of technology and skill will almost certainly help both the developing countries.

Considering the given requirement and the recommendation from some senior judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, JUST Project has subscribed to online database access for 25 judges from the manupatra as it is the fastest growing company in law publishing and is considered as a pioneer in online legal research in India.

With primary documents and proprietary analytical content covering commentaries, treatises, digests, editorial enhancements, Manupatra has created the largest and most comprehensive online resource of Indian materials. Currently it is also incorporating judgments of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh with their online database which would be of significant importance for users of Bangladesh.

Manupatra has provided a single point source of accessing diverse Indian Legal and Business information that helps users make critical decisions. A digital resource such as manupatra is an ideal solution, which takes no rack space to store, is not machine specific and thus can be used from anywhere, the search interfaces facilitate research and get requisite documents in matter of minutes.​