In order to make village courts more efficient, people-friendly and fitting for the modern age, the government has taken an initiative to amend the Village Court Act 2006.
With an aim to finalising the reforms and amendments to the legal infrastructure, an advisory meeting was organised today at a city hotel with the support of the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Moderated by Local Government Division Senior Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed, the meeting was attended by Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Tajul Islam, UNDP Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee and EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink, a UNDP press release said.
Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB)-II National Project Director and Additional Secretary Maran Kumar Chakraborty; Additional Secretary Mustakim Billah Faruki; Project Manager Sardar Asaduzzaman and district administrators from the project areas were also present at the meeting.
Speaking as the chief guest, Tajul Islam said the primary reason behind rectifying this law is to increase the financial jurisdiction of village courts, bring parity with other relevant laws and increase clarity, make the village court process simpler, ensure accessibility and participation of women in the service and decision-making aspects of the village court, and add subjective jurisdiction to increase the scope for dispute.
He mentioned that after the Village Court act was brought into effect in 2006, the first revision came in 2013, and in 2016 the ordinance was issued.
“But due to various difficulties, village courts had not been properly utilised. In the judiciary system of village courts, principles of human rights are prioritised. In the traditional judiciary system, the accused is considered a criminal, but in village courts, they are considered an objector. The primary objective of village courts is to take decisions in a way that encourages co-existence, compassion, forgiveness and understanding between conflicting parties to eliminate further conflict and ensure reconciliation,” he said.
In light of the learning from the meeting along with field-level implementation, the LGRD minister hoped that the speakers’ opinions would help strengthen the justice delivery mechanism of village courts and significantly reduce the number of cases at district-level courts.
The Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB) project took off in 2013 at 350 unions of 12 districts to ensure justice for the masses. Building upon its huge success, phase-II of AVCB launched in 2016 at 1,080 unions of 128 Upazilas in 27 districts across eight divisions.
In his welcome remarks, National Project Director of AVCB-II Maran Kumar Chakraborty said: “The unprecedented success of village courts is reflected in its disposal of over two lakh cases, including over 10,000 cases transferred from the district courts. This is making a huge contribution to reducing pressure on the higher courts.”
Rensje Teerink said EU is a tried and tested partner in Bangladesh’s development.
“We hope the amendment to this act will not only ensure smoother operation at the village courts but also ensure justice for people,” she said.