Village Court's role to establish local level justice

While presiding over the inaugural session of the two-day training course titled ‘Village Court Activation’ as Chief Guest,  Abdul Hannan, Divisional Commissioner of Rajshahi emphasised the vital role that Village Courts play towards establishing local level justice.

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He further exclaimed that all elected public representatives of Union Parishads (UP) are bound by duty to ensure that village courts function effectively and fairly, service the welfare of justice-seeking grassroots people.

“There is no alternative to justice in establishing good governance. Justice contributes predominantly towards restoring peace by curtailing people’s tendencies to commit crime within their respective communities,” added Mr. Hannan.

On 19 October 2016, Light House as a part of its ‘Improved Justice and Legal Aid Services (IJLAS) project’ organised this training session under the Community Legal Services (CLS) Bangladesh Programme, funded by UKaid and implemented by Maxwell Stamp PLC. A total of 64 UP Chairmen from 11 Upazilas in seven districts under Rajshahi division are took part in the course in two batches.

Harun-Or-Rashid, Chief Executive of Light House acted as the Chair during the inaugural session, while Aminul Islam, Additional Commissioner (Revenue) and Nisharul Arif, Additional Deputy Inspector General of Police, addressed the session as Special Guests.

During the session, Harun-Or-Rashid expressed that Village Courts are proving to be an effective tool in order to engender successful and logical resolution of village level lawsuits. However, he underscored the need to work neutrally, free from political and other influences, and stressed that utmost importance be given to transparency and accountability. This is particularly critical for elected public representatives who should discharge their duties with sincerity and honesty so that village courts can function impartially and in accordance with the needs and demands of the people.

Some major aspects of the IJLAS project were also highlighted at the session – such as the fact that IJLAS has increased the legal rights awareness of almost 450,000 people (half of them are women) in 11 Upazilas under seven districts of Rajshahi division, providing legal information through various project interventions like courtyard meeting, street theatre, school level debate competition and other field level activities. A total of 4,876 cases were referred over the last three years and among them 3,201 cases have been resolved free of cost. As a result, more than 3,000 poor people have been benefitted by way of alternate dispute resolution and acquiring financial compensation.