Rural justice system in Bangladesh: Village courts
Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar
Access to justice paves pathways for overcoming human poverty. Thus, the government of Bangladesh theoretically do emphasize on access to justice. But there is a reasonable gap between theory and practice. Very limited access to state courts has made the poor people in Bangladesh interested in local justice systems for resolving their disputes. Noticeable problem is evident at the local justice system as well. The local informal justice system shalish becomes de facto, to a great extent, with corruption, power driven biasness and imposition of unfair decisions including fatwa based on backward norms. NGO-led alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a good one, but new in Bangladesh and yet to be scaled-up everywhere. The state-led local justice systems are 'Arbitration Council' and 'Village Courts'. The former one deals family matters in both urban and rural areas, while the latter one handles the petty criminal and civil disputes in rural Bangladesh. The study follows Focused Synthesis and Participant Observation methods. It focuses on the functional assessment of the Village Courts system in Bangladesh, and employs policy recommendations thereafter. It considers the theoretical base that conflict resolution leads to the social justice, and places the key assumption that if properly implemented, village courts could play a vital role in resolving local disagreements and conflicts.