The Constitution of Bangladesh has in clear terms recognized the basic fundamental human rights. One of the basic fundamental rights is that all are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law (Article 27 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh). Article 14 of the said constitution stipulates that it shall be the fundamental responsibility of the state to emancipate backward sections of the people from all forms of exploitation; Article 31(2) guarantees protection of law that the citizens and the residents of Bangladesh have the inalienable right to be treated in accordance with law; Article 35(3) ensures speedy and fair trial . A range of international documents have also been framed for the safeguard of these rights. Articles 7, 8 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights1948 , Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 , Articles 6 (1) and 20 (1) of the Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms1995 . Article 9 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights 1994 , Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights 1981 , Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights 1978 . The Legal aid helps with the costs of legal advice for people who can’t afford it. If anyone needs help with the costs of legal advice, he can apply for legal aid. Whether he  will receive it depends on: the type of legal problem he has; his income (how much he earn) and how much capital (money, property, belongings) he has; whether there is a reasonable chance of winning his case and whether it is worth the time and money needed to win. Justice is open to all like the Ritz Hotel." Behind this remark lies an age-long complaint that the cost of law prevents the poor from getting justice. Hotel Ritz or hotel Sheraton is open for public but can the poor people dare enter there let alone stay there?  In line with international commitment to the principle of equality of justice as enshrined in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , it has been pledged in the preamble of our Constitution that one of the fundamental aims of the state is to realize a society in which equality of justice would be secured for all citizens. Not only that, article 27 of the Constitution provides for a fundamental right that all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. It does not require any reference to cite how illusory and meaningless those commitment and constitutional protection of fundamental rights are when we see that most of the indigent litigants in the country cannot afford the cost of defending their basic civil rights by appointing a lawyer or traveling to the District Court. Protection of equality before law and equal access to law in the Constitution becomes a mere paper tiger when an indigent people finds himself in the police custody or jail custody and cannot defend himself by affording a lawyer. The economic condition of the common people forming 90% of the total population baffles description. They are not only poverty-stricken but are deprived of the minimum basic needs of life. Modern life and civilization seem to have been a beckoning of the horizon to them. 'The demon of illiteracy and wants has still kept them subjugated and ignorant of the basic human rights and amenities. Their fate revolves round the globe of darkness without any better change'. "Our poor litigant people, most of whom pass more than half of the year through acute starving condition, cannot afford to reach the doors of any law chamber and derive any benefit of their services in many cases and as a result, they silently bear the agonies and burns of injustice done to them in various spheres of life without any legal relief. This is nothing but a negation to them of one of their fundamental rights of equality before law and the equal protection of law."

30 Sep 2013

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