The numbers will be in the upward trend even in the far future because of many factors, according to a projection made from a research
At Cox's Bazar tribunals dealing with women and children's cases, about 1,000 cases are pending for more than five years. Such trend of case piling amounted to as many as 4,000 cases undergoing trial in one tribunal.
The numbers will be in the upward trend even in the far future because of many factors, according to a projection made from a research. Inefficiency of the prosecution and investigation officials is the most concerning of all.
For example, in one of the cases, police submitted the charge sheet eight months after the case was filed. And then the prosecution took five years to prepare for the recording of witnesses' deposition. The case was finally disposed of seven years later, with the accused found not guilty.
The legal system that is grappling with a mountainous number of cases is itself flawed as well. It can be better illustrated with the fact that court rooms are time-shared by multiple tribunals.
This means a judge cannot use whole office hours for the trial of women and children repression cases.
Such a picture of dealings came up in a dialogue joined by judges of the women and children repression prevention tribunals across the country and the Supreme Court divisions, the first of the kind. Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain graced the event.
The programme organised on Thursday by Bangladesh Women Judges Association and UNDP started off with a presentation by Mahboob Murshed, advocate of the Supreme Court. He carried out a research between April and July this year to find out why the legal system has been failing to deliver victims due justice.
Lower court judges in the event elaborated on the hurdles they face in regular court sessions.
The researcher had looked into the proceedings of the Cox's Bazar tribunals.
According to his findings, the tribunals granted adjournments that had been sought "on unjustified grounds" and no reasons were recorded while granting them.
There were also delayed investigations and execution of summons, and warrants and tribunals' reluctance in going by the legal provisions liming time for investigation and trial.
Many tribunal judges, however, said they were navigating the system with a dearth of logistics and support staff and having to deal with an unrealistic number of pending cases. An increasing number of cases are also being added to the list by the month, they said.
On reasons behind the piling of cases, Mahboob Murshed cited a 1998 report of the law commission.
A lack of fulltime investigation team and coordination among different branches of the prosecution was cited as the major cause. Non-cooperation of lawyers and the absence of effective supervision of the judicial system were also prevalent.
All these factors weighing down the court procedures are still relevant, as suggested by the researcher.
Moreover, there has been no deterrent for filing false cases because any legal action should be followed by a written complaint from the aggrieved persons as per the law.
Justice M Enayetur Rahim, of the High Court, said judges have to be innovative and thoughtful while striving to find solutions.
A bit of homework can help them identify in a case the significant witnesses who would influence the trial outcome and accordingly the judges can rein in the ever-stretching court proceedings.
Prioritizing cases is also important, said Justice Enayetur, adding, "When there must be cases destined to go nowhere with realities making that obvious, cases of rape of children, murder should get more importance for quick trial and disposal."
There are still persisting problems that require government interventions, for example the lack of infrastructure and a dedicated investigation team.