Chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain recently said that the concerned authorities failed to acquire all the lands for the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court building. Frustrated chief justice said, "How many times should I repeat this?" He also mentioned that the land for the chief judicial magistrate has not been acquired in an area like Gazipur.
This statement of the chief justice shows the indifference and adverse attitude of the executive branch towards the judiciary. The government is pretending not to see the problem. That is why the chief justice had to repeatedly remind the minister for the judicial magistrates’ land.
In many cases the ruling parties put blame on the failures on predecessors. It is quite difficult in this matter. The executive branch was separated from the judiciary in 2007, during the tenure of caretaker government. They remained in the power until 2008. Since then, Awami League has been holding the power for over a decade. Ruling AL can take the credit for any infrastructural development of the judiciary. At the same time, the government will have to take the blame for any incomplete tasks, too.
It remains to be seen how seriously the executive branch will take the chief justice's remark that it is necessary to appoint two to three times as many judges to clear up the total cases. The question of increasing the allocation of the judiciary is related to increasing the number of judges. In the last financial year, the allocation for the law and justice department was only Tk 16.5billion. Another Tk 1.95 billion was allocated for the Supreme Court. In other words, the total allocation for the judiciary stands at Tk 18.45 billion which is only 0.352 per cent of the budget. Analysing the budget of the past five fiscal years, it is seen that not even 0.5 per cent of the budget has not been allocated for the judiciary.
On the other hand, the logjam of cases has been increasing. From 2008 to 31 March of 2020, the total number of new cases and revived cases is 15.9 million. More than 13.8 million cases have been settled. The number of judges in the lower courts of the country is about 1,800. There is only one judge appointed for every one million people in Bangladesh, which is less than that of neighbouring India, let alone in developed countries.
Former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, who recently passed away, had demanded an increase in the allocation of the judiciary, as well as appointing at least 3,000 judges in the lower courts in the budget session of the parliament. Another former law minister, Shafiq Ahmed, also said that the allocation of the judiciary was much less than required.
If any of the three pillars of the state is weak, the whole structure is bound to be weak. More importantly, it is the people’s fundamental rights to get justice or redress for injustice. The government cannot deprive them of this on any condition. Therefore, the allocation for the judiciary should be increased in the current year's budget so that at least the chief justice does not have to lament again for land acquisition for judicial magistrates or shortage of lower court judges.