Dalit Panchayats under village court on the cardsSep 19, 2018
State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Md. Mashiur Rahman Ranga, MP, has said that a proposal to recognise Dalit Panchayats under village court system would soon be sent to the law ministry for vetting
“The Dalit community is eligible for all scopes offered under the government’s social safety net. However, the community has to know about the scopes and go to places where the facilities are available. It is important to modernise the traditional Dalit Panchayat and giving it recognition under the village court committee,” the minister said
He also added that his ministry would take the initiative to open talks with the related ministries and departments to put forward a draft proposal which will then be vetted by the law ministry. The minister was speaking at a discussion organised by SHAREE with support from United Nations Development Programme’s Human Rights Programme at the National Press Club on September 19, 2018
“This government has successfully launched village courts to ensure access to justice for marginalised people. This has saved time, wealth and people from unneeded harassment. In the same way, by launching the Panchayet system, the daily issues faced by Dalit community members can be easily solved.
Moshiur Rahman Ranga continued that it would be impossible to give an institutionalised structured to the country’s democracy and development unless the Dalit community, with close to 10 million members, is ensured their basic rights including proper housing, education, employment and health services
He added that the government has extended its plans for inclusion of the marginalised communities and pointed out that social safety net has been expanded to Tk 646.56 billion in this budget
He also lauded UNDP’s activities to support the Dalit community and urged other stakeholders to step up in similar show of support
National Programme Coordinator of UNDP’s Human Rights programme Taslima Islam said, “If everyone can be self-sufficient enough to change their own lives, the nation and society will change automatically.
“Their own communities will have to play the biggest role in the development of the Dalits. To do that, they have to educate themselves to earn sufficiency. UNDP will support them.
“In developed countries, traditional judicial structures like Panchayats are given state recognition. If the same is done in Bangladesh, our judicial system would be enriched further,” Dhaka University’s History Professor Dr. Mesbah Kamal said.
Barrister Tapash Baul, the prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal, sees no constitutional barriers to acknowledging Panchayats as a part of the formal judiciary.SHAREE Executive Director Preo Bala Biswas pointed out that constitutionally acknowledging the importance of traditional Dalit Panchayats in their societies and giving them status of village courts would be a revolutionary step in socio-economic development of the Dalits.