The formal justice system in Bangladesh is under tremendous pressure with much workload and inadequate number of officials and staff to dispose the cases. Sometimes corrupt practices by people concerned create much problem in dealing with cases in various courts. As a result, the case backlogs add up to the existing pending cases and at present it stands on about half a million cases. It creates a negative impact for the rural poor and vulnerable group of people who cannot afford the expenses of cases and do not have clear understanding of how to get access to justice in the upper courts on some issues that could be easily resolved at the local level. Dispute resolution at the local levels may reduce the backlogs of cases in the formal justice sectors. The latest legal framework for Village Courts is the Village Court Act 2006 is an initiative for resolving some disputes quickly and easily within the jurisdiction of Union Parishad. It is expected that activating village courts would provide access to affordable justice to the vast majority of the population of Bangladesh at the local level.
The Ministry of Local Government Division (LGD), UNDP and the European Commission jointly have undertaken a programme titled ‘Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh’. The aim of this project is providing support to the justice system through activating village courts in 500 selected Union Parishads (UP) of the country. It also intends to develop capacity of the village court members, elected representatives and support staff. Motivation programme will be carried out in order to sensitize all concerned, on the role and functions of village courts and their benefits on the overall justice system. At the same time, it will address the justice service delivery to disadvantaged groups. The project comprises four components: (a) Legal framework and legal aid; (b) Capacity development; (c) Advocacy and Communication; and (d) Monitoring and Evaluation.