Workshop on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and Legal Aid with Outreach Panel Lawyers Forum 2018

A two-day workshop on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was organized by Ain o Salish Kendro (ASK) and held at Shohag Polli, Gazipur, from 5-6 October, 2018. The event was designed to disseminate knowledge on public interest litigation amongst the enthusiastic activists and lawyers, and highlight the history, objective, as well as the development and challenges of filing such PIL cases in Bangladesh.

Advocate Md. Asaduzzaman, Executive Committee Member, ASK gave the opening speech while Dilip Paul, Senior Coordinator, ASK, moderated the session. Nina Goswami, Senior Deputy Director, ASK, after sharing a brief history of ASK, went on to explain the concept, history, subject matter, the specification of filing, and finally, the effectiveness of filing PIL cases in Bangladesh, and the role of PIL in promoting and defending the human rights. Several landmark cases, such as the FAP20 case and the Berubari Case, were discussed in this public sphere.

Honorable Justice Nizamul Haq Nasim (Rtd), while speaking on the history of PIL and his advocacy days, stated that “History is never ending; it only moves forward and guides people.” Additionally, he shared his senior’s ideologies about providing legal aid to the ones who does not have the means to access the justice system in Bangladesh. He further urged the lawyers to perform their duties for the society and the country.

Barrister Sara Hossain, Honorary Executive Director, BLAST and General Member, ASK, while commenting briefly on the current situation of PIL in Bangladesh, expressed her concern of individuals filing private and political litigations in the guise of public interest. She opined that when and for what purpose the weapon of PIL needs to be used needs to be properly assessed. She also analyzed the judgment of Naripokkho and others vs. Bangladesh and others, and suggested that the guidelines made on 18 April 2018, needs to be shared more and made more publicly available.

Honorable Justice Md. Ruhul Quddus was also present in the workshop and asked the lawyers to be united against any malpractices. He opined that PIL and sensitization of judges are connected. He also suggested for the selection procedure for lawyers to be made more tough and rigid; and the appointment of judges to be based on knowledge.

The key note presentation on Public Interest Litigation was given by Barrister Taposh Kanti Baul, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, where he addressed the elements and the judicial creativity of PIL, and discussed few PIL cases along with the challenges faced so far. According to him, the greatest challenges they face are their lack of preparation of lawyers and the lack of political will in implementing orders of the court.

He concluded by stating that if fundamental principles of state policy becomes the light house in interpreting the fundamental rights of our Constitution, only then will public interest litigations be litigations for the public in true sense.

The first day ended with the concluding speech by Md. Asaduzzaman, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh & Executive Member of ASK where he thanked everyone for their efforts and appreciated everyone’s active participation.

On the second day Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir, Coordinator, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), conducted a session on ‘Sharing UPR Outcome of Bangladesh under Third Cycle of UPR.’ Afterwards, Nina Goswami and Dilip Paul conducted sessions on ‘Present Situation of Ongoing cases, Existing Challenges and way forward’ and ‘Impact of ASK’s intervention through Panel Lawyer’s Litigation at District Level.’