Roadmap necessary for further reforms in case management

22 Feb 2014

imagehe Committee Chairperson, Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain, presented the key note paper at the seminar. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh.
As of January 31st, the number of criminal cases (criminal appeal, revision, miscellaneous and reference cases) pending in the High Court Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court was 179, 046. From this, 401 were death reference cases. According to the recent Judicial Baseline Survey conducted by Judicial Strengthening (JUST), the number is also high in the lower court. The survey further revealed that 56 per cent of the disputes faced by the Court users in Dhaka, Kishoreganj and Rangamati is related to criminal offences.

To identify the deficiencies and impediments in the way of dispensation of quality justice in criminal cases without delay and recommended appropriate remedial measures, a seminar on 'Criminal Case Management' was organised by JUST on February 22. Exclusively participated by the judges of High Court and Appellate division, the seminar's objective was to share knowledge, experience and views identified by the Case Management Committee on Criminal Offences.

The Committee Chairperson, Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain, presented the key note paper at the seminar on behalf of the committee members that consisted of Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury and Justice Kamrul Islam Siddiqui. The committee recommended to limit delete the prayer for adjournment either by prosecution or by the defence dant; ensure quick transmission of the record to the Appellate Court; introduction of ADR in compoundable cases;  promulgating appropriate law; availability of the paper book at the earliest convenient time as well as encouraging paper books in and out of court. Also, the committee recommended that pending bail and stayed criminal cases, which is ready for hearing, be disposed by all the criminal benches. Also applications should not be returned rather these should be disposed; mention slip should be received for only one day in a week and as well as option for a periodic meeting in the criminal benches in coming to a consensus tentious in the case of bail and disposing of the same. The committee also opined that a huge backlog of cases will be reduced if the government can amend the Criminal Procedure of Code (CrPC) to introduce alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for disposing of criminal cases throughby compromising outside of the court.

In the paper, Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain also highlighted the necessity for establishing an independent Judicial Secretariat. He said, saying, ‘aEpart from completent, experience and honest judges of the courts,  in establishing an independent judicial secretariat of the Supreme Court to monitor the activities of the lower courts can help in reducing the backlog of cases’s’.

Attending the event as Chief Guest, Mr. Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh, said, ‘Delay increases the cost of litigation and sometimes frustrates the very objectives behind coming to court. It discourages people from bringing their genuine disputes to the Courts and encourages them to resort to extra-judicial means of dispute resolution. As such backlog of cases is the single biggest impediment  for the High Court Division in the way of dispensation of quality justice’. He hoped that the judges of High Court and Appellate Division will prepare a roadmap for further reforms of the case management process of the High Court Division at reducing backlog of Criminal Offences through the seminar’s invaluable discussions where they can share opinions and suggestions at identifying the loopholes in the system.

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has formed four  Case  Management Committee on Civil, Criminal, Writ, and Original Jurisdiction cases in the High Court Division and three in the project’s three pilot district courts during the beginning of 2013 with the ultimate aim of reducing backlog of cases. Due to functioning of Case Management Committee in the High Court Division as well as other intervention by JUST, significant steps have been taken at improving efficiencies in case management and Court administration. As a result, the number of case files filed in the Supreme Court have has reduced by 30 per cent (16,820) from 2012.