What is Legal Aid?
On the normal sense Legal aid is the assistance in the legal matters both inside and outside the courts house to the poor litigants. Basically, government funding a system for those who cannot pay for legal advice and legal representation.
So many Legal professionals are use the phrase ‘legal aid’ to mean counseling on any legal issue, giving honorarium to any pleader/ conciliator/ arbitrator, providing monetary aid to bear expenditure of the case, defending a person in a court of law.
The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has declared 28 April as “National Legal Aid Day” in 2013, with a view to spreading the message of government legal aid activities at the grassroots level and to create greater public awareness about government legal services. The National Legal Aid Day is celebrated annually on 28 April.
Functions of the Legal Aid
Basically, Access to justice and Ensure high quality legal assistance it’s functions made. One of the most important think is in the legal aid office a successful Implementation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is become popular worldwide.
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has enacted “Legal Aid Services Act – 2000. Under the Act, the government established “National Legal Aid Services Organization” and set up District Legal Aid Offices in each district’s Judge Court premises to ensure the protection of the poor, helpless people’s access to justice.
In the District Legal Aid Office, the government has appointed “Legal Aid Officer” who is a judge in the rank of Assistant Judge / Senior Assistant Judge. To ensure government legal aid services in the country’s highest court, the government has established “The Supreme Court Legal Aid Office” in 2015.
Moreover, to ensure legal aid in root level, Upazila Legal Aid Committee and Union Legal Aid Committee have been constituted at the union and upazila level.
Special committees have been formed in the Chowki Court and labor courts. The government is providing legal assistance to the marginalized people to ensure access to justice through these committees and Legal Aid Offices, under the supervision of “National Legal Aid Services Organization”.
Statistics of Legal Aid help in the Judicial proceedings
Sixty four District Legal Aid Office, Supreme Court Legal Aid Office, two Labour Court Legal Aid Cell and National Helpline Call Center a total number of 100806 beneficiaries have received government legal aid services through National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLAS0), during the financial year 2018-2019.
Legal advice is provided from the District Legal Aid Office, the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office and the Labor Court Legal Aid Cell offices.
As per Legal Aid Policy, 2014, any person can avail legal advice/ counseling services under the Government Legal Aid Program. A total of 54,575 people have received legal advice/ counseling services during the fiscal year 2018-2019.
Same fiscal year, the District Legal Aid Offices successfully mediate the disputes of parties among 10,375 beneficiaries with realization of money 8,25,02,270 taka (Eight core twenty five lac two thousand seventy taka) .
Moreover, ADR beneficiary parties with the consent of each-other, withdrew 243 ongoing cases from the court. Same financial year Dhaka and Chittagong Labor Court Legal Aid Cell provides legal advice to 3429 helpless workers, provides legal assistance in 412 labour cases, and undertakes 535 mediation initiatives among the workers and the owners parties.
Through mediations, 89,06,205/- (Eighty Nine Lac Six thousand two hundred five) taka has been recovered for the helpless labors.
Equality before the law, equal protection of the law and rule of law which are all guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic will cease to be effective if the poor and vulnerable sectors of the populace are not properly provided with a legal aid facility or legal aid mechanism which has to be properly implemented.
It is better to do something imperfectly rather than to do nothing flawlessly. A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan left for tomorrow.
Hence, the government should develop an atmosphere which should be more conducive to address the loopholes of the legal aid service mechanism and to take concerted efforts with the NGOs to provide a smooth legal aid for ensuring access to justice among the poor litigants.
It is not too misleading if we were to say that ideas without action are worthless. Vision without action is just a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
1. ‘Annual Report (2018-2019) National Legal Aid Services’ <http://nlaso.portal.gov.bd/sites/default/files/files/nlaso.portal.gov.bd/annual_reports/4264134d_fcc9_487c_906a_8531a0539460/0559eb416edf65806136ac1b440b231d.pdf> accessed 14 May 2020.
2. ‘Annual Report (2018-2019) National Legal Aid Services’ <http://nlaso.portal.gov.bd/sites/default/files/files/nlaso.portal.gov.bd/annual_reports/4264134d_fcc9_487c_906a_8531a0539460/0559eb416edf65806136ac1b440b231d.pdf> accessed 16 May 2020.
3. ‘Legal Aid Empowers the Critically Disadvantaged’ <http://nlaso.portal.gov.bd/sites/default/files/files/nlaso.portal.gov.bd/annual_reports/4264134d_fcc9_487c_906a_8531a0539460/0559eb416edf65806136ac1b440b231d.pdf> accessed 12 May 2020.
4. Md Mamunur Rashid,’ A Critical Analysis of Legal Aid in Bangladesh’ (PDF Available · March 2014) <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272026513_A_Critical_Analysis_of_Legal_Aid_in_Bangladesh> accessed 11 May 2020.
6. Main Header banner of the website. < http://www.nlaso.gov.bd/ > accessed 15 May2020.