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UPDATE: A Research Guide to the Legal System of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh

 

 A thoroughly revised article by Md. Ershadul Karim

 

Md. Ershadul Karim  is a non-practicing lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court and the Editor of Chancery Law Chronicles, the first ever-Online Database of Bangladesh Laws and currently a Doctoral Candidate in Nanotechnology Law and Policy in the University of Malaya, Malaysia.

 

Published April 2013
(The archive version has been previously updated by Omar Sial and Md. Ershadul Karim on June 2010)
See the Archive Version!

 

Table of Contents

1. Background

2. Location

3. Constitution

4. Constitutional Status of Islamic Law 

5. Government

6. Parliament-the House of the Nation, the Jatiya Sangsad

7. Legal System of Bangladesh

8. Codification of Laws

9. Bangladesh Gazette

10. Judicial System

10.1. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh

10.2. The Subordinate Courts and Tribunals

10.2.1. Civil Courts

10.2.2. Criminal Courts

11. Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission

12.  Law Reports

13. Legal Profession in Bangladesh

14. Bangladesh Law Commission

15. Arbitration Law in Bangladesh

16. Legal Education

17. Legal Research

18. Law Libraries

19. Other Related Important Websites

20. Business Guides
21. Some Bangladeshi Newspapers

 

1. Background

Bangladesh is officially known as the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh [Article 1, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 1972], became independent on March 26, 1971 under the name Bangladesh, meaning the country of Bengali nation. Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan on December 16, 1971, when Pakistani troops in East Pakistan surrendered to a joint command of Bangladesh and India. It is a common law country and second largest Islamic state with 151 million of people. The country has now become a model for the world with its number of achievements nationally and internationally. 

 

2. Location

Bangladesh lies in the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent – which is located in southern Asia; it was created out of the former Pakistani province of East Pakistan. The country consists mainly of the deltaic plains of the Ganges and Brahamaputra rivers and a portion of the hill country bordering Myanmar and northeastern India, except for a short frontier with Myanmar in the southeast and a coastline along the Bay of Bengal in the south. Bangladesh has an area of 55, 598 square miles (143, 998 sq. km). It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Dhaka is the national capital and the largest city.

 

3. Constitution

The Constitution of Bangladesh was adopted on November 4, 1972 and has undergone fifteen amendments until date and originally the Constitution provided for parliamentary form of government. The Constitution was thoroughly amended by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution in 1975 and Presidential form of government was introduced. Major changes were further introduced in the Constitution by the Fifth, Seventh and Eighth amendments and the Twelfth amendment to the Constitution brought back the original Parliamentary form of government. However, very recently, the Supreme Court declared the Fifth and Seventh Amendment to the Constitution illegal and as inspired by the order of the Supreme Court, the Parliament of Bangladesh, through the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 2011 (Act XIV of 2011) shuffled the whole Constitution significantly.

 

Women’s rights and the principles of gender equality come under the Fundamental Principles of State Policy and are protected by Article 10 i.e. participation of women in national life as well as under Articles 26 to 29 of the Part on Fundamental Rights, affirming equality of all citizens before the law. Rights of minority groups have been protected by Article 41, which reiterates that religions may be practiced in peace and harmony (subject to law, public order and morality).

 

To have a look on the Constitution of Bangladesh, visit here.

 

4. Constitutional Status of Islamic Law 

Recently amended Article 2A to the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972 provides that the state religion of the Republic is Islam, but the State shall ensure equal status and equal right in the practice of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and other religions. While the Government generally respects this provision in practice, religion exerts a powerful influence on politics, and the Government is sensitive to the Muslim consciousness of its political allies and the majority of its citizens. Citizens generally are free to practice the religion of their choice; however, police are normally ineffective in upholding law and order and are often slow to assist members of religious minorities who have been victims of crimes. Although the Government states that acts of violence against members of religious minority groups are politically or economically motivated and cannot be solely attributed to religion, human rights activists reported an increase in religiously motivated violence.

 

5. Government

The President, while the Head  of State (article 48(2), the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972), holds largely a ceremonial post of appointing the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice (articles 56 and 95, the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972); the real power is held by the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government. The President is elected by the legislature (Members of Parliament) for 5 years (Articles 48(1) and 50, the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972). The President's circumscribed powers were substantially expanded during the tenure of a Caretaker Government, which is now repealed by the provisions of the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 2011 (Act XIV of 2011). Under the 13th Amendment, which the Parliament passed in March 1996, a Caretaker Government assumed power temporarily to oversee general elections after dissolution of the Parliament. In the Caretaker Government, the President had control over the Ministry of Defense, the authority to declare a state of emergency, and the power to dismiss the Chief Adviser and other members of the Caretaker Government. Once national election was held and a new government and Parliament were in place, the President's powers and position revert to their largely ceremonial role.

 

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President (Articles 48 (3) and 56(3), the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972). The Prime Minister must be a Member of Parliament (MP) whom the President feels has the confidence of the majority of other MPs (Article 56 (3), the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972). The Cabinet is composed of Ministers selected by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President. At least 90% of the Ministers must be MPs. The other 10% may be non-MP experts, or "technocrats", who are not otherwise disqualified from being elected MPs. According to the Constitution, the president can dissolve the Parliament upon the written request of the Prime Minister (Article 57 (2), the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972).

 

For more information on the President of Bangladesh, visit here.

For more information on the Prime Minister’s Office, visit here.

 For more information on the Rules of Business of the Cabinet, visit here.

 

6. Parliament-the House of the Nation, the Jatiya Sangsad

The legislature is a unicameral, 300-seat body. All its members are elected by universal suffrage at least every five years. Parliament amended the Constitution in 2011, making a provision for adding 50 seats reserved for women and to be distributed among political parties in proportion to their numerical strength in Parliament (Article 65(3), the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972).

 

All citizens of Bangladesh of and above the age of 18 and of sound mind, resident of a constituency and not convicted of any offence under the Bangladesh Collaborates (Special Tribunal) Order, 1972, who have registered themselves as voters (Article 122, the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972), form the electorate. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament on the basis of direct election. All citizens of Bangladesh having who attained the age of 25 qualify to be elected to Parliament. Those disqualified include the insane, un-discharged bankrupts, persons who on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude who have been sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years unless five years have elapsed since their release, persons owing allegiance to a foreign state, and persons holding an office of profit in the service of the Republic. (Article 66 (2), the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972).

 

A general election for a new Parliament takes place on the same day in all constituencies. Depending on the size of a constituency and its total number of voters, a number of polling centres are set up with arrangements for voters to exercise their franchise freely, peacefully and in secrecy. Polling officials in each centre - in the presence of candidates or their nominees - count votes. The result is sent to the Returning Officer in sealed covers together with ballot papers. The Returning Officer, generally the Deputy Commissioner of the district, communicates the result of each constituency to the Election Commission after he has compiled the results in the presence of the candidates or their authorised representatives. Unofficial results start being announced in the state radio and television from the evening of the Election Day. The Election Commission declares the result of the general election formally a few days later through the publication of the names of winning candidates in the official Bangladesh Gazette. Members-elect are administered an oath of office by the outgoing Speaker. 

 

The Parliament of Bangladesh runs its business according to the Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Business contains detailed provisions as to Summoning, Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliament and Seating, Oath and Roll of Members, Election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker and nomination of a Panel of Chairmen, Powers and functions of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, Sittings of the House, Arrangement of Business and Orders of the Day, President's Address and Messages to and from the House, Questions and Short Notice Questions, Motion for adjournment on a matter of public importance, Discussion on matters of urgent public importance for short duration, Calling attention to matters of urgent public importance, Legislation, Amendment of the Constitution, Petitions, Procedure in Financial Matters, and all other issues necessary in order to run the business of the Parliament .

For more detail on the Parliament of Bangladesh, visit here.

For more detail on the Parliament of Bangladesh, visit here.

For more details on the Election Commission of Bangladesh, visit here.

For more detail on important legislations, visit here.

 

7. Legal System of Bangladesh:

As a common law country, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has the power not only to interpret the Constitution (articles 103(2) (a) and 110, the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972) and the laws made by the Parliament, but also to declare them null and void when they are found inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Constitution and to enforce fundamental rights of the citizens (articles 7 (2) and 44, the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972). Although founded on the English common law system, the laws of Bangladesh take a statutory form, which are enacted by the legislature and interpreted by the Supreme Court.

 

The word ‘law’ is defined in Article 152 of the Bangladesh Constitution. It says that “law” means any Act, ordinance, order, rule, regulation, byelaw, notification or other legal instrument, and any custom or usage, having the force of law in Bangladesh.  Under this definition, the Act of Parliament, the Ordinance and President’s Orders are treated as primary legislation, whereas rules and regulations are secondary legislation.

 

Besides, article 111 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972 provides that the law declared by the Appellate Division shall be binding on the High Court Division and the law declared by either division of the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts subordinate to it. Therefore, the statutory laws, secondary legislation and judgment laws or precedent along with customs and usage all form the sources of law in Bangladesh. 

 

8. Codification of Laws:

There are strong legal obligations for the codification, translation and publication of laws. Section 6 of the Bangladesh Laws (Revision and Declaration) Act, 1973 (Act no. VIII of 1973), provides that, "all Acts of Parliament, Ordinances and President's Order in force in Bangladesh shall be printed in chronological order under the name and style of Bangladesh Code."

 

The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent, sovereign country called for necessary amendments, adaptations and the repeal of certain laws as well as the enactment of new laws and translation of laws into Bangla version to meet the changed and changing political, social and economic needs of the new country. Commensurate with this requirement, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs started examining the existing laws for adaptation, codification and publication for said purposes. Accordingly, Bangladesh Code, Volumes I-XI were published containing the laws enacted during 1836 to 1938. But due to the lack of proper leadership, manpower, and sound organizational support, the process had proceeded no further. As a result, laws enacted after 1938 were kept scattered and unattended to, which used to create unbearable suffering to all people having interest in Bangladesh laws including lawyers, judges, students of laws, journalist and so on. Fortunately, during the last political government led by BNP (2001-2007), with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs started the codification of Bangladesh Code, which saw the light of the day during the Caretaker Government led by Dr. Fokruddin Ahmed. This is undoubtedly a giant initiative in the legal history of Bangladesh. However, as of yet, no effective steps have been taken to update and compile rules, regulations, by-laws, notifications, statutory orders, etc. 

 

Pertinent to mention here that though Bengali is the State language of Bangladesh, till 1987 all laws were enacted in English and hence most of the educated people who are non-familiar with the technical legal terms remain ignorant of the provisions of law, let alone the position of illiterate people. In 1987, by the enactment of the Bangla Bhasha Procholon Ain, 1987 (Act No. 2 of 1987) [The Introduction of Bengali Language Act, 1987], it was provided that, from now on, all laws shall be enacted in Bengali. As a result, from then on, maximum laws have been enacted in Bengali with some exceptions where English authoritative translations of laws are also made by the Drafting Wing of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. The list of some of these laws includes, inter alia, the Trade Mark Act, 2009, the Right to Information Act, 2009, the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2009, etc. The present Awami League Government, with the help of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has started under its Access to Justice Project the translation of Bangladesh Code and once this Project is successfully completed all laws of the land shall be bi-lingual and can be available in both Bengali and English.

 

For more details, see, the Bangladesh Code here.

 

9. Bangladesh Gazette

Bangladesh Government Press - widely known as BG Press - is the lying-in house of government publications, forms, classified materials, budget reports, bills, acts, ordinances, resolution leaflets, and posters. The online service of the BG Press was of great help for the legal professionals and persons in need of legal materials. But for some reasons unknown the service of having primary and secondary legislation in a gazette format is unable for last couple of months.

 

The Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project

This site contains the English translation of laws published in Bangla from 1985-1995. However, the translation of laws cannot be considered as a legal translation rather from the reading of the laws it appears that the translation was done by people who do not have sufficient knowledge of legal translation and legal drafting. 

 

10. Judicial System

The Judiciary of Bangladesh consists of a Supreme Court, Subordinate Courts and Tribunals established under the provisions of different statutes.

 

10.1. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is comprised of the Appellate Division and the High Court Division. It is the apex Court of the country; other Courts and Tribunals are subordinate to it. The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to interpret the Constitution and other laws of the land and it is the guardian of the Constitution. The Constitution provides for detailed provisions as to appointment, tenure, powers and functions of the judges of the Supreme Court.

 

The Appellate Division, the highest Court of Appeal, has jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from judgments, decrees, orders or sentences of the High Court Division, review its own judgments and orders. It has rule making power for regulating the practice and procedure of each Division and of any Court subordinate to it (Article 103, the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972). Under article 106 of the Constitution, 1972, the Appellate Division, with the request of the President, has the power to give its opinion on a serious question of law having public importance.

 

The High Court Division has both appellate as well as original jurisdiction. It hears appeals from orders, decrees, and judgments of subordinate Courts and Tribunals. It has original jurisdiction to enforce the fundamental rights of the citizens upon Writ Applications under articles 44 and 102 of the Constitution. It has further original jurisdiction, inter alia, in respect to company and admiralty matters under statutes. The High Court Division, in special circumstances, also has powers and jurisdiction to hear and dispose of cases under article 110 of the Constitution and has control over all Courts and Tribunals subordinate to it The Supreme Court is also a Court of Record and can try contempt cases (article 108, the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972).

 

For more information, visit here.

For details on History of Supreme Court of Bangladesh, visit here.

For more information on Rules of the Supreme Court, read here.

 

10.2. The Subordinate Courts and Tribunals

There are a wide variety of subordinate Courts and tribunals. Such Courts and tribunals are created by statutes. Their powers, functions and jurisdictions are also determined by their respective statutes. These are the basic Courts in the system of the judiciary of Bangladesh. The major bulk of the cases, both Civil and Criminal, are tried and heard in such Courts and tribunals. Apart from these civil and criminal courts, there are also administrative tribunals. The subordinate Courts in Bangladesh can be divided into two broad classes, namely: Civil Courts and Criminal Courts.

 

For more information, visit the website of Subordinate Courts of Bangladesh, here.

 

10.2.1. Civil Courts

The Civil Court system is more popularly known as the subordinate judiciary. The Civil Courts are created under the Civil Courts Act of 1887. According to section 3 of the Civil Courts Act, 1887 there are following classes of Civil Courts, namely:


(a) the Court of the District Judge;

(b) the Court of the Additional District Judge;

(c) the Court of the Joint District Judge;

(d) the Court of the Senior Assistant Judge; and

(e) the Court of the Assistant Judge.

 

The lowest three are Courts of first instance with powers, functions and jurisdictions in respect to subject matter, territory and pecuniary value determined by or under statutes. The remaining two are generally courts of Appeal in Civil matters. However, the Court of District Judge is, to very limited extent, a Court of first instance.

 

10.2.2. Criminal Courts

The criminal court within the subordinate judiciary are established under the section 6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898), which stipulates that there shall be the following categories of criminal courts-

 

(a) Courts of Sessions; and


(b) Courts of Magistrates

 

The Court of Sessions include the following classes of Courts-

 

(a) Court of Session (for session division) and Metropolitan Session Court (for a Metropolitan Area)

 

(b) Additional Session Judge

 

(c) Joint Sessions Judge

 

The above section 6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, further says that there shall be two classes of Magistrate, namely: -


(a) Judicial Magistrate, and


(b) Executive Magistrate


The Judicial Magistrates are classified into four classes, namely:

 

(a) Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Metropolitan Area and Chief judicial Magistrate to other areas;

(b) Magistrate of the first class, who shall in Metropolitan Area, be known as Metropolitan Magistrate;

(c) Magistrate of the second class; and


(d) Magistrate of the third class.


Pertinent to mention here that the word “Chief Metropolitan Magistrate" and "Chief judicial Magistrate" shall include "Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate" and "Additional Chief judicial Magistrate" respectively.

 

Among Executive Magistrates, there appear two Magistrates who are to be appointed by the Government as:

 

(a) District Magistrate

 

(b) Additional District Magistrate

 

Beside these criminal courts, the Government can appoint a person to work as a Special Magistrate to deal with cases situate generally in any local area outside a Metropolitan area. (Section 12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898).

 

There are many other specialized courts and tribunals, which are established under the provisions of different statutes. For example, Environment Courts are established under the Environment Court Act, 2000, Acid Crime Tribunals are established under the Acid Crime Control Act, 2002, Labour courts are established under the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunals established under the Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2000 etc.

11. Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission:

There is a Judicial Service Commission, officially known as the Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission (BJSC) established under the provisions of the Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission Rules, 2007. The BJSC is responsible to assess the suitability of persons for appointments at the entry level of the Bangladesh Judicial Service and to conduct periodical examinations for probationer Assistant Judges/Judicial Magistrates.

 

For more information on the Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission, please visit here.

 

12.  Law Reports

Article 111 of the Bangladesh Constitution, 1972 provides that the law declared by the Appellate Division shall be binding on the High Court Division and the law declared by either division of the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts subordinate to it. The Supreme Court declares the law by way of judgment, order and decisions, etc. These judgments, order and decisions are reported in different law reports. Therefore, these law reports play an important role in the study of law, legal research, legal practices, etc.

 

In Bangladesh, the law reports are published according to the provisions of the Law Reports Act, 1875. There are at least seven printed law reports now in Bangladesh, the most popular one is the Dhaka Law Reports (popularly known as DLR) which started its publication in 1948. Bangladesh Legal Decisions (BLD) is published under the authority of the Bangladesh Bar Council. The other law reports are Bangladesh Law Chronicles (BLC), Law Guardian (LG), the Lawyers (Appellate Division Cases/ ADC), Bangladesh Law Times (BLT), and the Mainstream Law Reports (MLR). Even after the establishment of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 1972, a law report was published for a few years under its supervision. But that did not continue for long. These Law Reports basically contain the judgments, orders and decisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh with some articles and statutes. It should be noted that some of the judgments delivered by the Appellate Division and High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh are available in the website of the Supreme Court.

 

From 2008, Chancery Research and Consultants Trust (CRC-Trust), a socio-legal consulting group has been maintaining the first Bangladesh Online Case Law Database, the Chancery Law Chronicles in its website. Exciting features of the website include judgments of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, legal dictionary (both judicial and legislative), glossary, explanation of Latin terms and phrases, abbreviations, directory of various categories of government organizations, Law Journal, blog, delegated legislation, newly enacted Laws, policies of the Government of Bangladesh, various official and legal forms, etc.

 

13. Legal Profession in Bangladesh:

Bangladesh Bar Council, a Statutory Autonomous Body constituted under the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order, 1972 (President’s Order No. 46 of 1972) is the central body to regulate different activities of legal profession including enrolment, professional misconduct etc. The Council is headed by the Attorney-General of Bangladesh and run by a Committee of fifteen members.

 

For details about the Bangladesh Bar Council, please visit.

 

However, after passing out successfully in the enrolment examination conducted by the Bangladesh Bar Council, a candidate shall be known as Advocate but needs to enroll himself/herself in one of the District Bar Associations of his choice to practice as a lawyer. There is a District Bar Association in every administrative district of the country and an Association of lawyers in the Supreme Court known as Bangladesh Supreme Court Bar Association.

 

The Attorney General of Bangladesh and other members from his team (Additional Attorney Generals, Deputy Attorney Generals and Assistant Attorney Generals) represent the government in the Supreme Court. The office of Public Prosecutor and Government Pleaders represent the government in the subordinate courts.

 

14. Bangladesh Law Commission

The law of the land in a dynamic society requires that it be constantly reviewed by an authority, which is manned by persons possessing an adequate and thorough knowledge of law and the society in which it operates. Reflecting this, different countries at different times felt the need to establish a law reform agency; Law Commissions have been set up to fulfill this need. In 1996, by the enactment of the Law Commission Act, the Law Commission in Bangladesh started its journey.

 

For more information about the Law Commission of Bangladesh, read here.

 

To access Bangladesh Law Commission reports, read here.

 

15. Arbitration Law in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has repealed both the Arbitration (Protocol and Convention) Act of 1937 and the Arbitration Act of 1940, and has enacted a new arbitration law, "The Arbitration Act, 2001" (the Act) principally based on the UNCITRAL Model Law in International Commercial Arbitration (1985). The new arbitration law consolidates the domestic and international arbitration regime in Bangladesh.

The Act provides that an arbitral tribunal may rule on its own jurisdiction, unless otherwise agreed by the parties in terms of the following questions: (a) whether there is a valid arbitration agreement; (b) whether the arbitral tribunal is properly constituted; (c) whether the arbitration agreement is against public policy; (d) whether the arbitration agreement is capable of being performed, and (e) what matters have been submitted to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration agreement.

Chapter VI, entitled "Conduct of the Proceedings," provides in Article 24 that the arbitral tribunal shall not be bound by the Code of Civil procedure and the Evidence Act of Bangladesh, and that the arbitral tribunal shall follow the procedure to be agreed on by the parties. In terms of setting aside arbitration awards, Chapter VIII of the Act, entitled "Recourse against arbitral awards" is similar to Chapter VII, Article 34 of the UNCITRAL Model Rules. It also provides that Bangladesh courts may set aside awards if they are satisfied that (i) the subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by the arbitration under the law for the time being in force in Bangladesh; (ii) if the arbitral award is prima facie opposed to the law for the time being in force in Bangladesh; (iii) the arbitral award is in conflict with the public policy of Bangladesh or (iv) the arbitral award is induced or affected by fraud or corruption.

For more information, visit here.

Read the Report of the Law Commission of Bangladesh on the Arbitration Act, 2001, here.

 

16. Legal Education

At present 7 public universities in Bangladesh offer legal education: namely, University of Dhaka, University of Rajshahi, University of Chittagong, National University, Gazipur, Islamic University, Kushtia, Jagannath University, Dhaka and Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka. All public universities except National University offer 4 year LLB (Hons.) Degree at the undergraduate level. National University offers 2 year LLB (Pass) Degree at graduate level through its different affiliated private law colleges (around 70) all over Bangladesh.

In the graduate level 1-year Master program i.e. LLM both general and specialized is being offered by all the public universities except Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka that has very recently opened Department of Law & Justice under the Faculty of Law. Evening LLM Program (1 year and 2 years) is being offered by the only public university in Bangladesh i.e. University of Rajshahi. 

 

Besides, around 30 private universities offer 4 years LL.B. (Hons) and 1 or 2 years LL.M.  

 

17. Legal Research

The following website(s) on Bangladeshi Laws may be of help to a legal researcher:

 

Chancery Law Chronicles

Comprehensive, searchable database of Bangladesh Laws and more than 7000 Judgments of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh as available now in the website.  It  reports judgments of the Appellate and High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, legal dictionary (both judicial and legislative), delegated legislation, newly enacted Laws, policies of the Government of Bangladesh, various official and legal forms, etc.

 

Asian Law

A free, online bibliographic database, which can be searched or browsed by country or legal subject, of books, chapters in books, journal articles and theses that discuss the role, practice and place of law within Asian legal systems. A document delivery service is available as are links to websites for each country and legal area (Asian Law Centre, University of Melbourne)

 

South Asian and South Pacific Finance, Banking and Tax Locator

Provides links to various topics including economy, taxation, banking, finance and investment for the South Asian and South Pacific countries

 

Asian LII

Provides sources of information on Bangladesh courts, case law, government, indigenous law, infrastructure, ADR, etc.

 

Bangladesh Journal of Law

Published by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA).

For more information, visit here.

 

Wikipedia entry on the laws of Bangladesh

The Wikipedia entry on the laws of Bangladesh may be accessed here.

 

SAARC Law entry on Bangladesh Laws

The SAARC Law entry on Bangladesh laws may be accessed here.

 

Library of Congress entry on Bangladesh Laws

 

The Library of Congress entry on Bangladesh Laws may be accessed here.

 

Information Technology Laws

You may find here an article addressing information technology laws in Bangladesh.

 

Report on Laws and Legal Procedures Concerning the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Bangladesh

The abovementioned report may be accessed here.

 

An Article on World Trade Organization and the Challenges for Legal Reforms In Bangladesh

The abovementioned article may be accessed here.

 

18. Law Libraries:

 

 The following are the popular law book suppliers in Bangladesh:

 

  • Aligarh Library, Govt. New Market, Dhaka

 

  • Book Syndicate, Govt. New Market, Dhaka

 

  • Anupam Gyan Bhandar, 156, Bangabandhu Stadium, Dhaka

 

  • The University Press Limited, 61, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000
  • Mallik Brothers, 42, Banglabazar, Dhaka-1100

 

  • Khoshroj Kitab Mohol, 15, Banglabazar, Dhaka-1100

 

The following are contact details for the law reporters in Bangladesh:

 

Dhaka Law Report, 264, Malibagh, Dhaka-1217, Bangladesh, Phone- 880-2-8312503; 880-2-9356928; 880-01711-688860.

Bangladesh Legal Decisions, Secretary, Bangladesh Bar Council, Dhaka-1000, Phone- 880-2-9567056; 880-2-9569807; 880-2-9569809; Fax- 880-2-9554959, E-mail: barcon@bdmail.net

The Lawyers (ADC), 228, Green Road, Dhaka-1205. Phone- 880-2-9145695; 880-2-9136508; 880-2-9144027; 880-1711-455999.

Mainstream Law Reports, 4/B, Mayakanon, Shabujbag, Dhaka-1214, Bangladesh, Phone- 880-2-7273474; 880-1552-363284

Bangladesh Law Chronicles, 204, Shantibagh, Dhaka-1217, Bangladesh, Phone- 880-2-9353649; 880-2-8322271; 880-1711-688860.

Bangladesh Law Times, 24/1, Segunbagicha, at present 9, Circuit House Road, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh.

Law Guardian, Suite 512A, 11, Purana Paltan, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh, Phone- 880-2-9570782, 880-1712-203339, Website .

19. Other Related Important Websites:

 

General

National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh

Banglapedia is the national encyclopedia of Bangladesh developed by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh with the generous support of more than 1200 scholars.

 

National Web Portal of Bangladesh

This site contains information on Bangladesh, its constitution and various government ministries.

 

Forms of Bangladesh

This website which was last updated in 2005 was developed to help the citizens of Bangladesh to find out frequently used government forms in a digital format.

 

Different Government Ministries and Departments

 

There are more than thirty-five ministries in Bangladesh and some of these ministries are divided into Divisions. Under these ministries there are also many departments. The main roles and functions of these Ministries are distributed according to the Allocation of Business among the Different Ministries and Divisions.

 

Read the Allocation of Business among the Different Ministries and Divisions, here.

 

Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is the office of the head of the government of Bangladesh.

 

Parliament Secretariat

This website has information on the Constitution and parliamentary procedures.

 

Cabinet Division

The functions of the Cabinet Division include: secretarial work for the cabinet and its committees; custody of papers and documents of the cabinet and committees and their decisions; review of progress and implementation of cabinet and committee decisions; remuneration and privileges of the president prime minister and other ministers; immunity of the president; administration of oath of the president and resignation of the president; rules of business and allocation of business among the ministries and divisions; Toshakana; flag rules, national anthem rules and national emblem rules; appointment and resignation of the Prime Minister, ministers, ministers of state and deputy ministers and administration of their oath.

 

Ministry of Home Affairs

Laws relating to citizenship, narcotics, police, border guard, Bangladesh standard and testing institute etc. can be found here.

 

Bangladesh Police

This site contains information on the police structure in Bangladesh and has links to other law enforcement agencies.

 

General Diary (GD) is a very common issue in Bangladesh and the very primary initiative to let police know about an incident. Copy of GD is required in events like snatching, loss or theft of certificates, ID cards and documents, or issues involving security guards, servants, caretakers and tenants, etc. For filing a General Diary in 41 Police Stations of Dhaka Metropolitan area, visit here.

 

Immigration Police of Bangladesh

For Immigration service, Bangladesh Police is tasked with providing immigration-related service and security to Bangladesh through the well-managed entry and exit of people. The immigration service is provided by the Special Branch of the Bangladesh Police. The abovementioned site contains immigration laws and procedures.

 

Ministry of Establishment

The Ministry of Establishment is primarily responsible for management of public administration. MOE provides necessary assistance and support to all concerned on administrative matters.

 

Ministry of Finance

The Ministry of Finance has three divisions, namely-

 

Each division is headed by a secretary to the government.

 

National Board of Revenue of Bangladesh

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is the central authority for tax administration in Bangladesh. Administratively, it is under the Internal Resources Division (IRD) of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). Secretary, IRD is the ex-officio Chairman of NBR. NBR is responsible for the formulation and continuous re-appraisal of tax-policies and tax-laws in Bangladesh.

 

Bangladesh Bank

This site contains information on management, the Bangladesh Bank Library, economic data, and major economic indicators, including:

 

  • Monthly updates
  • Exchange rates
  • International reserves
  • Balance of payments
  • Bank credit
  • Bank deposits
  • Money supply
  • Monetary survey
  • National income aggregates
  • Foreign trades
  • Export receipts
  • Import payments
  • Non-resident investment
  • Tax exemptions
  • Foreign exchange guidelines
  • Money laundering risks
  • Prudential regulations for banks
  • Procurement regulation
  • Guidelines for merger/amalgamation of banks/financial institution
  • Guidelines/notifications

 

Ministry of Law and Justice

This website has information on the courts of Bangladesh and certain judicial offices. The website also contains the Bangladesh Code, which is the single authoritative source of all primary laws i.e. Acts, Orders and Ordinances from the year 1836 to till date.

 

Furthermore, the website contains information relating to legal aid, marriage or Nikah Registrar, and Solicitor’s officewhich monitors litigations by or against of the government in different courts of the country including the Supreme Court, processes the appointments all Government Pleaders and Public Prosecutors, Attorney General and other Attorneys in the Supreme Court, and payment of salaries and fees of the government law officers and disbursement of all other expenses connected with litigation management.

National Legal Aid Services Organisation

Provision of legal aid by way of advice, financial assistance or defending is constitutional obligation of the government of Bangladesh and to this end the government has enacted the Legal Aid Services Act 2000. National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) was also established at national level and 64 District Legal Aid Committees (DLAC) were created through which NLASO implements the government legal aid program at the district level.

For more information about the National Legal Aid Services Organization, visit here.

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

This website contains laws related to local government in Bangladesh.

 

Divisional City Corporations of Bangladesh

There are seven divisional city corporations in Bangladesh in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, Sylhet and Rangpur.

 

For Dhaka South City Corporation, visit the website.

For Dhaka North City Corporation, visit the website.

For Chittagong City Corporation, visit the website.

For Rajshahi City Corporation, visit the website.

For Khulna City Corporation, visit the website.

For Sylhet City Corporation, visit the website.

For Rangpur City Corporation, visit the website.

 

Ministry of Agriculture

This website has information on issues related to agriculture. The site also has a link to agriculture related laws.

 

Ministry of Information

The Ministry of Information has a functional setup comprised of twelve departments under its aegis.  These are:

 

(i)     Bangladesh Betar

(ii)    Bangladesh Television

(iii)   Department of Mass Communication

(iv)   Department of Films and Publication

(v)    Bangladesh Film Archive

(vi)   Press Information Department

(vii)  Press Institute of Bangladesh

(viii) Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

(ix)   Bangladesh Press Council

(x)    Bangladesh Film Censor Board

(xi)   National Institute of Mass Communication

(xii) Bangladesh Film Development Corporation

 

Beside these, there are six Press Wings in six important cities of the world within Bangladesh Mission in those cities including:

 

(i)     Washington

(ii)    New York

(iii)   London

(iv)   Islamabad

(v)    New Delhi

(vi)   Kolkata.

 

Ministry of Shipping

Apart from texts of important shipping-related circulars and various organizations under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Shipping, this website also has information on:

 

  • Ports
  • Light houses and light ships
  • Navigation and shipping
  • Mercantile marine, admiralty jurisdiction and offences committed on high seas
  • Inland water transport and shipping, marine services and elimination of danger of shipping
  • Inland waterways
  • Administration of mechanically propelled vessels and the rules made there under
  • Engineer and ship surveyors and register of inland shipping
  • Marine shipping and navigation, provision of education and training for mercantile marine
  • Organization and maintenance of mainland, island and inter-island shipping services
  • Co-ordination activities relating to this Ministry and research
  • Legislation relating to shipping and navigation
  • Liaison with international organizations and matters relating to treaties and agreements with other countries and world bodies relating to subjects allotted to this Ministry
  • All laws on subjects allotted to this Ministry
  • Inquiries and statistics on any of the subjects allotted to this Ministry
  • Fees in respect of any of the subjects allotted to this Ministry except fees taken in courts

 

Chittagong Port Authority

The Chittagong Port is the principal seaport of Bangladesh handling about 92% of import-export trade of the country. As such, its importance in the national economy is paramount. The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is a basic services provider. Its objective focuses mainly on providing necessary services and facilities to the port users efficiently and effective at competitive price.

 

More about Chittagong Port Authority can be found here.

Mongla Port Authority

Mongla Port is the second seaport situated in southwestern part of Bangladesh, at the confluence of the River Passur and Mongla, about 131 Km. upstream from the Bay of Bengal. The port is well protected by the natural mangrove forest of Sunderbans, which was declared as world heritage by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Basically the entire western part of Bangladesh is its hinterland and neighboring country like Nepal, Bhutan and border areas of India are also considered as natural hinterland of Mongla Port. More about Mongla Port Authority can be found here.

 

Ministry of Environment

The Ministry of Environment & Forests is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government, for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing of the implementation of environmental and forestry programs. MoEF oversees all environmental matters in the country and is a permanent member of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council. This site contains texts of environmental laws and various treaties to which Bangladesh is a party.

 

Department of Environment

This site contains initiatives taken by the government relating to environment, including banning of polythene shopping bags, decision on brickfields, hill cutting, vehicular emission, status of multilateral environmental treaties where Bangladesh is a party.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Amongst others things, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website contains information on the fundamental foreign policy of Bangladesh and list of agreements where Bangladesh is a party.

 

Ministry of Food

To access the Ministry of Food website, click here.

 

Ministry of Commerce

The Ministry of Commerce, of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, is mainly entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with all trade and commerce in Bangladesh. This website contains important trade laws, policies for import and export, and WTO related issues.

 

Some other relevant organizations are as follows:

 

Export Promotion Bureau

Bangladesh Tariff Commission

Bangladesh Tea Board

Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms

Institute of Cost and Management Accounts of Bangladesh

Institute of Chartered Accounts of Bangladesh

Board of Investment (BOI)

National Board of Revenue

Office of Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (CCI&E)

 

Securities and Exchange Commission, Bangladesh

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was established on 8 June 1993 under the Securities and Exchange Commission Act, 1993. The Chairman and Members of the Commission are appointed by the government and have overall responsibility to administer securities legislation.  The Commission is a statutory body and attached to the Ministry of Finance. 

 

This site contains securities related laws and notifications of Bangladesh.

 

Dhaka Stock Exchange

The Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) is registered as a Public Limited Company and its activities are regulated by its Articles of Association rules & regulations and byelaws along with the Securities and Exchange Ordinance, 1969, the Companies Act, 1994 & the Securities & Exchange Commission Act, 1993.

This site contains laws in connection with stock exchange of the companies listed with the Dhaka Stock Exchange.

 

Chittagong Stock Exchange

This site contains laws in connection with investment in Bangladesh.

 

Ministry of Labor and Employment

The Ministry of Labor & Employment has taken its present shape and status following different changes and developments, which have taken place since independence. Considering the importance of employment for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, the present government divided the Ministry of Labor & Manpower and created the present Ministry of Labor & Employment in December 2001.


The objective of the Ministry of Labor & Employment is to alleviate poverty by creating employment opportunities for the poor, unemployed and unskilled labor force of the country.


The functions of the Ministry of Labor & Employment are realized through the execution of different activities, such as:

 

  • Converting unskilled labor into semi-skilled and skilled labor through imparting technical training;
  • Creating congenial environment between employee and the employer to increase the production of factories and industries; and
  • Ensuring the welfare of labor through the formulation and implementation of labor laws, labor wages, etc.

 

Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment

This site contains valuable information on bills, notices and consultations in connection with expatriate workers and the enhancement of overseas employment.

 

Statutory Public Authorities

Statutory public authorities are those authorities, which are created by the provisions of different laws of the land. Information on these statutory public authorities can be found in the following websites-

 

Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission

The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, established on March 13, 2003 under the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act, 2003, is responsible to enforce fiscal discipline of the energy sector, introduce the performance targets and incentive-based regulation, uniform operational standards and quality of supply, transparency in tariff determination and economic efficiency, etc. All laws and policy relating to the energy sectors of Bangladesh can be found here.

 

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) established in 2002 under the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act, 2001 to encourage the orderly development of a telecommunication system that enhances and strengthens the social and economic welfare of Bangladesh; to ensure, in keeping with the prevalent social and economic realities of Bangladesh, access to reliable, reasonably priced and modern telecommunication services and internet-services for the greatest number of people, as far as practicable; to ensure the efficiency of the national telecommunication system and its capability to compete in both the national and International spheres; to prevent and abolish discrimination in providing telecommunication services, to progressively effect reliance on competitive and market oriented system, and in keeping with these objectives, to ensure effective control of the Commission; and to encourage the introduction of new services and to create a favorable atmosphere for the local and foreign investors who intend to invest in the telecommunication sector in Bangladesh. All laws and policy relating to the telecommunication sectors of Bangladesh can be found here.

Election Commission Secretariat

Article 118 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of an Election Commission for Bangladesh, consisting of a chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time direct. The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners (if any) is made by the president. When the election commission consists of more than one person, the chief election commissioner is to act as its chairman. Under the Constitution, the term of office of any election commissioner is five years from the date on which he enters into office. A person who has held office as chief election commissioner is not eligible for appointment in the service of the Republic.

 

Bangladesh Public Service Commission Secretariat

The Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC) is a quasi-judicial body established under the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. It works under the provisions of articles 137 to 140 of the Constitution and certain other rules and regulations made by the government from time to time under the Constitution.

 

Privatization Commission, Bangladesh

Information on the privatization commission and privatization policies and procedures can be found here.

 

Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission:

Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission established under the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2009, is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh. Details about the activities of the Commission can be found here.

 

NGOs in Bangladesh:

 

NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB)

The NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB) was established in 1990 through an administrative order of the Government. Its prime objective is to provide one-stop service to the NGOs operating with foreign assistance and registered under the Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Ordinance, 1978. In addition, it facilitates the activities of the NGOs in the country, and ensures their accountability to the state and thereby to the people of the country. Initially, it was located in the President Secretariat's Public Division and, later on, in the Cabinet Division. In 1991, with the re-introduction of a parliamentary form of government, the NGOAB was placed under the Prime Minister's Office as a regulatory body overseeing NGOs with the status of a government department.

 

Here are the web links of some of the Human Rights NGOs in Bangladesh-

Ain o Salish Kendra

Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust

Bangladesh National Women Lawyer’s Association

Consumer Association of Bangladesh

Odhikar

 

20. Business Guides
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority

Dhaka Stock Exchange, Bangladesh

Doing Business in Bangladesh, World Bank Group

 

21. Some Bangladeshi Newspapers

In Bangla

Daily Amar Desh

Daily Jugantor

Daily Kalerkantha

Daily Manab Zamin

The Jiajaidin

The Daily Janakantha

Prothom Alo


In English

The Bangladesh Today

The Bangladesh Observer

The Daily Star

The Daily New Nation

The Financial Express

The Independent

New Age
The Weekly Holiday