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Delay in Civil Litigations of Bangladesh

Delay in disposal of cases is an alarming issue of the judiciary in Bangladesh. This is also a humanitarian issue all over the world both from social and economic aspects. Now-a-days delay in the justice system has reached a point where if has become a factor of injustice, a violator of human right. Praying for justice, the parties become part of a long, protractor and torturing process. When a case is filed with a court, no body knows when it will end. Even a small case which should be disposed of within one year, may take 10-15 years to dispose of through all stages.
To go to the civil court with any dispute means putting the matter in cold storage for years to come and by the time final decision of the dispute is available, the decree holder and the judgment debtor both become equally indifferent. A civil suit from the date of its institution till its final disposal often takes twelve to fifteen years or more. Consequently the people are becoming apathetic towards the courts or its decision and they try to take law whenever possible in their own hands. This attitude of the people is making the courts the last resort for the weak persons only, more for psychological satisfaction than for any material gain.1

Although Bangladesh has long tradition of established legal and judicial system, this system has failed to meet the present needs of the litigant people in the changed national and global reality. This deteriorating trend of people’s confidence upon the judiciary is largely due to the present legal framework, cumbersome and lengthy procedures and lacunas in laws insufficient court-rooms, a shortage of trained judges. Their low salaries, accumulation of countless eases in each court. Poor case management including inadequate human resources both in terms of efficiency and number. The government of Bangladesh is not able to solve these problems due to its different constrains. The scenario is prevalent both in higher and subordinate judiciary.2

1 Rafiqur Rahman, “Civil Litigation in Bangladesh”.
2 Ahmed, Moudud: “Democracy and the Challenge of Development”. (1995), The University Press Limited, Dhaka, Bangladesh, at 269.
The process of delay in litigation is equally known to all and nevertheless it may sound inconsistent with due process of law. The fact remains that the very cases are misused and abused in order to delay cases for an indefinite period and ultimate success in the cause often proves false. Now, law is an effective weapon in the hands of the state to mitigate the social needs by ensuring proper justice in time. Such effort of law is liable if justice fails to mitigate the misery of the mass people due to delay in litigation only and the faith in justice can never be instilled in the mass people if the state doesn’t ensure the speedy process of justice.

In the field of justice, delay in litigation is traditionally practiced in our country as like at the same time as denying due process of law. The result is that cases are piled up in all the courts hugely day by day. Basically, the delay in litigation is incredibly practiced in civil courts. Our civil courts are governed by the Civil Procedure Code 1908 which was enacted during the British reign.3

There are much procedural limitations in our legal system. We follow common law system. Civil law system isn’t in force in our country. We never didn’t demand of this system. This system has come from England but they revived party the civil law system. Common law follows adversarial system and civil law follows inquisitorial trial system. In adversarial system; lawyers play a pivotal role. But in case of inquisitorial system the lawyers assume only a supportive role. This system takes time for the disposal of the case, as the judges do not have much thing to do.4

In inquisitorial system, the court itself plays the dominant role. But in adversarial system the judges is very passive and the parties do everything. There are some elements of inquisitorial system of trial like discovery and inspection but in practical it isn’t followed.

3 Sultan Mohammad Wahid, “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
4 Bangladesh law Commissions, Thirteenth Report on “proposals for speedy Disposal o suits and cases in sub-ordinate Courts in Bangladesh”.
In inquisitorial system, the limit of own consciousness is more extended for the judges. Here deeds, information take priority but in adversarial system, evidence, examination in chief & cross examination etc are the main thing.

In civil law system, after filing a suit a judge can sit together with the parties. Judges have the opportunity of exchanging views with the concerning lawyers. What will be the stage and within what time that means the total procedure is taken in a diagram. But in our system this opportunity is limited. In our legal structure no implementation in spite of having legal obligation. No meaningful action or step is taken to remove the problems relating to delay in civil litigation. Our judges have the aptitude of granting time largely. In many countries of the world, a lot of changes has been brought in the civil law system. Both adversarial & inquisitorial system have been kept side by side in USA & UK.5

So the delay can be addressed from two sides i.e. compulsory delay and intentional delay. Compulsory delay is caused due to our age old legal system and intentional delay is caused mostly by the persons who are instrumental in administration of justice and more specifically the lawyer and parties to the suit. Both the Bench and the Bar are two arms of the same machinery and unless they work harmoniously justice cannot be properly administered.6