The immediate-past Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir, believes that access to justice for all in countries like India and Bangladesh can be improved through various innovative alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Justice Kabir was speaking at a Talk on ‘Access to Justice for All’, organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) of the BRAC University at the Daily Star Centre in the city on 24 April 2014.
The event was chaired by Advocate Sultana Kamal, Executive Director of Ain O Shalish Kendra, while BRAC University Vice Chancellor Professor Ainun Nishat and Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD, was also present.
Justice Altamas Kabir said, justice should remain within the reach of the people, especially the poor. He also said that the poorest and the richest have equal rights to get justice. He said those involved in judicial services should work with commitment and integrity to ensure justice to all.
Replying to questions by young lawyers, activists and journalists, Justice Kabir said, "Political pressures will always be there but you must have shoulder broad enough to check that pressure." "Use your wisdom to find ways around a problem," he said in his speech.
Justice Kabir, who was India's 39th chief justice from September 2012 to July 2013, talked about the village level "lok adalat" (court of the common people), where disputes are settled across the table on consensus basis, and the legal aid clinics that give primary solution and advice.He said women were given preference while recruiting paralegal volunteers for the legal aid clinics. "A man can only go up to the door. A woman has much more entry into the house, and it is easier for them to understand the problems."
In their efforts to make the legal system accessible, mobile vans with a little court inside and accommodation for judicial officers have been introduced, said the former judge. "These vans go to different haats (village markets), melas (fairs) and hold lok adalats." He shared several anecdotes from his life to illustrate how he utilised his position and vision as a legal practitioner to ensure that justice was provided to those who could not access it before.
Chairing the programme, Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra Sultana Kamal said, “Access to justice for all had remained a distance dream in Bangladesh, and urged all to think about how "we can do from our respective positions to ensure justice for all".
The talk was also attended by eminent jurists, former lawmakers and bar council members, senior advocates, researchers, academics and journalists. The event received huge coverage in the national media. Click on the links below to have a look.