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Awareness Key to Ensuring Legal Right of Insolvents

Awareness Key to Ensuring Legal Right of Insolvents

MJF-NLASO discussion on govt legal aid services told

Speakers yesterday underscored the need for creating awareness about government's legal aid services among insolvent people and victims so that none is deprived of legal assistance, a constitutional right.

Pointing out that a huge amount of government funds returns unused every year, they said the money would be utilised if people were aware of the services that included appointing lawyers, legal counselling, and mediation.

They were addressing a discussion titled "Partnership of Manusher Jonno Foundation in Quality Enhancement of Government Legal Aid Services: Success, Potential and Experience", organised jointly by National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) in the capital's Cirdap auditorium.

Law Minister Anisul Huq said after the Union Parishad elections, the ministry would hold meetings with all elected union chairmen and members to make them aware of the legal aid services.

He also underscored the need for collective initiatives and effective enforcement of law to change people's mindset in filing false cases; otherwise the practice would result in doubling the case backlog in the country.

“In many instances, it is seen that cases are filed to harass. It does not matter what would it result; cases are filed to make one visit the court and instil a fear of imprisonment,” he said.

“I want to come out of that bad culture.”

The minister said, “If we can't come out of the evil practice, then the case backlog, which is now 30 lakh, will be 60 lakh. To reduce it to 15 lakh, we must get rid of this practice.”

Saying that filing of false cases is punishable by law, he said if the law was enforced more effectively, people's mindset would be changed.

Registrar General of the Supreme Court Syed Aminul Islam called upon people not to see legal aid services as a charity.

“Getting legal aid is a constitutional right of the insolvent people, and the government is constitutionally bound to provide the service,” he said.

He requested legal aid officers in every district who would mediate disputes at pre-case and post-case level.

He also urged the government to take necessary steps so that people in jail could talk to their lawyers to get legal aid, which is not practiced currently.

Law professor of Dhaka University Shahnaz Huda said the concept of legal aid should be spread to the grassroots level so that poor, underprivileged people and rape and acid victims could seek help.

They also unveiled a book "Legal Aid System in Bangladesh and International Context", written by Senior Judicial Magistrate Jasim Uddin.

The official said there were misconceptions among people about legal aid, and he addressed that in his book.

Executive Director of MJF Shaheen Anam said in many districts, there were no legal aid services, MJF was working in those districts to address the problem.

She said MJF was ready to cooperate with the government in constructive works.

Programme Coordinator of MJF Ruma Sultana highlighted the works done by the organisation in different districts.

She said MJF had carried out different activities to make the legal aid service committees active in 110 unions, 35 upazilas, and 17 districts.

In addition, MJF has held workshops to encourage panel lawyers, she added.

Joint Secretary (admin) of Law and Justice Division Bikash Kumar Saha presided over the discussion.





Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF)

House # 47, Road # 35/A
Gulshan-2, Dhaka-1212
Tel: +880-2-9850291-4
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