NATORE, June 4, 2019 (BSS) – Swapna Khatun, not the real name, of village Amhati of Sadar upazila was married to grocery shop owner Abdur Rahman of Kalikapur area under Baraigram upazila, but had to return to his father’s home after ten-year of conjugal life with her nine-year-old daughter as Rahman divorced her.
Rahman had taken loans from different NGO’s and used to make Swapna to face the lenders when they come to realize money. Swapna was humiliated and even tortured physically by them on many occasions and when she finally refused, Rahman divorced her.
After divorce, Swapna decided to knock the doors of district legal aid office and after hearing her sufferings, legal aid officials summoned Rahman immediately.
Rahman appeared before District Legal Aid Office on the day fixed and District Legal Aid Officer and Senior Assistant Judge Md Motiur Rahman tried to convince him to take Swapna back and was successful ultimately.
In the presence of local influential people, Rahman gave undertaking to return the loan in phases and not to torture Swapna anymore. The family finally reunited and three lives were spared because of the timely action of the District Legal Aid Office.
Such cases of out of the courtroom arbitration or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is becoming very common in the district thanks to growing awareness among rural people and prompt actions of District Legal Aid Office.
Singra farmer Mohammad Ali and his wife Monsura Begum’s marriage too was saved through ADR.
Moriom of village Arurail under sadar upazila of Natore was married to Monir Hossain of village Biprohalsa and was blessed with a daughter. But one day hotheaded Monir divorced his wife marking a conjugal dispute. He kept their three-year-old daughter to him and threw his wife out of the home.
Morium took refuge of District Legal Aid Office to get back her daughter and was able to get her daughter in her arms the next day. District Legal Aid Office made Monir to give alimony for their daughter also.
Natore District Legal Aid Office is currently trying to resolve eight family disputes through ADR and is committed to become successful to this end also.
Present government is laying emphasis on ADR to ease growing backlog of case, with Law Minister Anisul Huq recently said we need now to re-think legal aid, in large measure, how to address and dispose of cases in a quick, timely and affordable manner, how to use ADR, to prevent small disputes from escalating into large conflicts.
“Just as the entire justice system needs to consider more vibrant methods of case management, so must Legal Aid services look at its case load in two ways, which of its existing cases can be supported through ADR and which of its future case inflow should be diverted for effective dispute resolution instead of towards trial,” he told BSS recently.
Anisul Huq, who is also an eminent jurist himself, said the task is ambitious, but necessary.
“Since the time of the Justice Audit we have increased our resources considerably and have created the post of Legal Aid Officer in all the 64 District Legal Aid Offices in Bangladesh and posted Senior Assistant Judges as fulltime District Legal Aid Officer. But much more needs to be done,” he added.