It is one of the principles of Natural Justice that
“Nobody should be condemned unheard”. That
is, before condemning a person, the judge must hear
the person, if he has anything to say to prevent the
miscarriage of justice. Again, article 27 of the Bangladesh
Constitution, 1972 provides that all citizens are equal
before law and are entitled to have equal protection
Legal aid means the assistance in the legal matters
both inside and outside the courts to the poor and indigent
litigants. Legal aid is a system of government funding
for those who cannot afford to pay for advice, assistance
and representation. Legal professionals 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.
Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people
otherwise unable to afford legal representation and
access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as
central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality
before the law, the right to counsel and the right to
a fair trial.
Even after passing the Legal Aid Act 2000, it was
not possible to provide service to the justice seekers
due to the absence of required rules on providing legal
aid at the highest court of the land. In 2010, National
Legal Aid Service Organization provided only Jail Appeal
to the people who are socially and financially vulnerable
through 37 lawyers who were included into the panel.
After that, National Legal Aid Service Organization
(NLASO) and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) jointly
took the initiative to conduct a survey on how legal
aid can be provided by the govt. and accordingly assigned
Barrister Tanjib-ul-Alam to conduct the survey and later
he submitted the study paper on it. An advisory committee
was also established and the Director of National Legal
Aid Services Organization (NLASO) was the head of the
After intense observation on the report prepared on
the basis of the findings, the advisory committee recommended
enacting and publishing the Legal Aid Regulation 2015.
The publication of the regulation as gazette notification
created the scope of a new beginning on the way of providing
legal aid at the highest court of the land. The recently
published gazette includes the issues regarding increasing
fees of lawyers, jurisdiction of filling cases and some
other related issues as well.
However, on 8th September, 2015 Honorable Chief Justice
of Bangladesh Surendra Kumar Sinha officially inaugurated
the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office. USAID’s Justice
for All Program and the National Legal Aid Services
Organization (NLASO) organized this launching ceremony
of the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office.
This official inception of the Supreme Court Legal
Aid Office ensures that legal aid is accessible to the
poor and distressed. Any eligible applicant can now
access free legal aid by submitting an application to
the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office. After reviewing
the application, a lawyer is appointed to represent
the applicant free of cost. The government will pay
the honorarium directly to the advocate. The Supreme
Court Legal Aid Office is now available for Civil, Criminal
appeals and Writ and others.
The Supreme Court Committee was comprised of 10 members
and Honorable Justice M. Enayetur Rahim is the Chairman
of the Committee.