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3 November, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Cases Under Women, Children Repression Prevention Act

Disposal timeframe in ‘papers only’

MUHAMMAD YEASIN, Dhaka
Disposal timeframe 
in ‘papers only’

The provision for disposing of cases under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act within 180 days is hardly being followed in reality. This is causing immense suffering for litigants and increasing the number of pending cases in courts. Records show that as many 11,616 cases filed under the law are pending in the five women and children repression prevention tribunals in Dhaka alone till March 31.

According to Supreme Court (SC) sources, the total number of such pending cases across the country stands at 289,019. A senior official of the SC, who requested anonymity, said some of the pending cases had been filed more then 10–12 years ago. “But they are yet to be disposed of. Hence, the number of pending cases keeps increasing,” he added.

According to Section 31 (A) of the Act, a tribunal failing to dispose of a case within the stipulated time has to submit a report explaining the reason for delay to the top court within 30 days of expiry of the deadline. It also requires the tribunals to send a copy of the report to the government and stipulates that the authorities take action against those responsible for the delay.

However, the records also show that the provision for explaining the delay to the SC is not being followed either.

Several lawyers told this correspondent that the 180-day provision of the law should be annulled as the court does not dispose of the cases within the stipulated time due to various reasons, including time prayers made by the parties.

Khurshid Alam Khan, an SC lawyer, said the 180-day provision was not mandatory. “It’s a directive to courts to inform the apex court about the reason for not settling the case within the stipulated time. However, what’s written (in the law) doesn’t actually match the reality. I haven’t come across any instance of submission of any explanation (to the SC) in case of failure in complying with the provision,” he added.

Another lawyer, Badiul Islam Tapadar, who

has dealt with a number of such cases, said: “Most of the cases filed under Sections 7 and 11 for assault and murder for dowry are false. So, judges are not as attentive as they should have been while hearing the cases. This attitude leads to the rise in number of pending cases.”

“But punishment for the plaintiffs in such false cases is rare, though there is a provision for punitive action against them,” he added.  Advocate Fawzia Karim Firoze, president of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA), said women were being harassed in several ways because the existing laws were not being properly implemented. “If the courts settle such cases within the stipulated time by giving exemplary punishment to criminals, the number of such crimes against women will go down,” she added.

The government had enacted the Women and Children Repression (Special Provision) Act in 1995 to tackle crimes against women and children. In 2000, the Act was replaced by the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, which was amended as the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amended) Act in 2003.

Barrister Quazi Maruf said the present Act was considered as one of the most potentially effective laws for curbing violence against women. This Act contains stringent provisions for the prevention of offences related to the oppression of women and children, trafficking and kidnapping of children and women, rape, death resulting from rape and dowry, and sexual harassment, he added.

“However, this Act has been seriously misused since the time of its enactment. It has been used as an instrument of humiliation, extortion and harassment. The rate of conviction regarding violence against women and children is very low. It has also failed to usher in the expected results in punishing the actual criminals,” he added.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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