Files at High Court move only through ‘lobbying’

Bahauddin Imran
Published : 07:30, May 28, 2019 | Updated : 16:25, May 28, 2019

A general view of the Supreme Court building of Bangladesh. BANGLATRIBUNE/Sazzad HossainLobbying is common practice at the High Court (HC) and in most cases, it involves financial transactions. Without payment to the right place, cases remain pending for hearing for months on end.
Sometimes, necessary documents are not found, court order copies come after months of delay or the justice seeker has to face harassment.
Chief legal official of the country, Mahbubey Alam, says: “If this is how the judiciary works then the state machinery will become ineffective.”
An in-depth investigation has revealed a sordid picture of corruption.
“Lobbying” has become the euphemism for outright bribery.
For instance, if a case is placed at 500 in the case list then by paying Tk. 1000 it can be brought forward. Similarly, all work is expedited with additional payment.
There is extra money to be paid at every step: from having the case sealed to getting it approved by the affidavit commissioner to getting the court order typed.
Without special payment, most court orders are not typed and files are not called on time.
In the case of bailing an accused, extra amount must be paid, or else the relevant bail papers never reach the officials.
This means, without ‘lobbying’ the bail related file may gather dust and not move an inch.
A few lawyers have said that the amount of the money to be paid depends on the officials of the high court. To file a writ, the cost is Tk 1200 for a bail file to do the required rounds, Tk 2000 at the least and to get court order for a hearing, Tk 4000 to Tk 5500.
A senior lawyer says: “Since, there are CCTVs in the section offices, the money is not taken openly but transacted in the toilet or sent to a bKash number.”
But lawyers also say that there are still honest people and in some cases, court order can be received within a few days without paying anything.
However, when corruption is present, court order hardly arrives before 57 days.
Former president of the supreme-court lawyer’s association Dr Md. Golam Rahman Bhuiyan, says: “The court management is abysmal; cases are not being resolved and bribes are demanded everywhere.”
Former vice chairman of the Bangladesh Bar Council, Abdul Baset Mazumder, adds: “The judges are trying to stop corruption which involves peons, bench officers and clerks. These people do not have any patriotism; if they had any love for the country then they would not have asked for bribes.”
Talking on the scourge of corruption, supreme-court registrar general, Dr Md Zakir Hossain, observes: “We are constantly monitoring the court sections and giving the right advice to officials and are settling more than twenty complaints every month.”
If we get the assistance from lawyers with proper complaints lodged, then we will be able to bring down corruption, he assured.