>CHT to get judge’s courts in 10 days

>IN efforts to ensure access to justice for the hills people, sessions courts will start functioning in the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) within next 10 days. (Read full story)
To be set up as a stopgap measure, they will only deal with criminal charges while the divisional commissioner and deputy commissioners (DCs) will continue taking care of civil matters until the government introduces civil courts after amendments to the existing laws.
As part of the provisional arrangements, Chittagong district judge, metropolitan sessions judge and special division anti-corruption judge might be assigned to run sessions court in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari at least once a week. It will be in addition to their regular duties.
After meeting Law Adviser AF Hassan Ariff and Supreme Court (SC) Registrar Iktedar Ahmed Wednesday, a delegation of CHT bar said the government had assured them of bringing about the necessary amendments in two months.
People in the hill tracts have little access to justice with no district or sessions judge’s court instituted even after 36 years of independence.
Though judicial power of the administrative officials ended with separation of the judiciary from the executive on November 1 last year, the DCs there still retain the civil judges’ posts while the divisional commissioner acts as district and sessions judge as per the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900.
An amendment to the regulation in 2003 made it mandatory for the government to establish district and sessions judge’s courts in the region, but that has yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday directed the government to set up civil and criminal courts run by judicial officers in the CHT within a year to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2003.
The sessions courts, once off to a start, will spare the locals the trouble of trekking all the way to Chittagong for trial.
Currently, the Chittagong divisional commissioner discharges the judicial functions of sessions courts in CHT, home to 11 indigenous communities–Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tonchonga, Mro, Bawm, Chak, Khumi, Pankhua, Lusai and Khiang.
Talking to The Daily Star Saturday, the SC Registrar said the divisional commissioner’s serving as a judicial officer contravenes the CrPC [Code of Criminal Procedure].
He said that they are planning three judges will hold sessions courts in the three districts once a week, and no amendments needed for that to happen.
“Later, judges will be appointed to run sessions courts there on a permanent basis,” he added. In the CHT Regulation 1900, a three-tier social court headed by three hill circle chiefs (or king) and their subordinate headman and Karbari is mandated to resolve only some family conflicts in the ethnic communities.Locals have to go to Chittagong also to appeal the DCs’ judgments.

Read The Daily Star editorial


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