An effective justice system can boost business growth

The development of a country depends on the efficiency of its judicial system. File photo: Reuters


The development of a country depends on the efficiency of its judicial system. File photo: Reuters

An effective and efficient justice system is essential for sustained economic growth around the world. In a well-functioning justice system, decisions are made within a reasonable timeframe, which contributes to the economic growth of a country. In Bangladesh, more than 30 lakh cases are currently pending in higher and lower courts across the country. “Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim. This means that if a legal remedy or an equitable remedy to an injured party is available, but is not provided on time, it is tantamount to providing no relief at all. As Martin Luther King, Jr. rightly put it, “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and when they fail to do so, they become dangerously structured dams that block the flow. of social progress ”. There is another legal maxim: “Justice in a hurry is justice buried.” If the process is rushed, there is a high probability that effective justice will not be served.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, said: “It is better (that) 100 guilty people escape, than an innocent person suffer. This principle has been a staple of legal thought for centuries. The efficiency of a judicial system is important for an emerging economy to create a good business climate, and is essential to attract foreign direct investment, ensure good collection of tax revenues, timely mitigation of tax disputes and customs, and the settlement of loan and credit matters, which ultimately support economic growth. Say, if we consider that a plaintiff, an accused, a witness, a prosecutor and an investigating officer are involved in one case, then 30 lakh cases have 1.5 crore of people involved in the transactions related to the case. With the business still pending, the economy loses the support and contribution of the income-generating economic activities of these people in all their capacities.

The number of judges per 100,000 inhabitants in developing countries differs from country to country. In 2020, the number of judges per 100,000 people in India was over 1.4. India’s judge-to-population ratio has improved in recent years. Given this ratio, Bangladesh, with its population of 16 crore, is expected to have at least 1,600 active judges in courts across the country.

In one of the World Bank’s World Development Reports published several years ago, the importance of well-functioning courts in strengthening economies and their investment climates – and ultimately reducing poverty and stimulate business growth – was highly recognized by researchers at the bank. Court performance indicators were part of the World Bank Group’s country-level investment climate assessments and Ease of Doing Business reports through 2020. But this year, the World Bank shut down the process. performance rating for the Ease of Doing Business report. It is now time for each country to assess its own performance to know the state of the administration of justice relating to business climates in order to boost their economies. This is how important it is: for example, countries wishing to join the European Union (EU) or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must demonstrate that they have successfully completed and timely legal proceedings in association with other indicators.

When it comes to business, corporate and financial matters, enforcing contracts and resolving disputes are essential elements for successful business operations and sustained economic growth. Economies with an effective judicial system – in which the courts can effectively and timely enforce the contractual obligations of business entities – have better developed credit markets and the confidence of the people, and also have domestic financiers and international for companies. Timely court rulings can foster the rapid growth of small businesses and improve the business climate, foster innovation for small businesses, attract foreign direct investment, and ensure strong tax revenue collection that ensures economic and trade growth.

To ensure an efficient trial system, the timing of each event in a legal proceeding, such as the hearing, the laying of charges, the recording of witness statements, arguments and the delivery of judgment, must be carefully followed. The delay in adjourning each event must be defined. The number of times a request can be granted should be clearly defined. According to article 339C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a magistrate must conclude the trial of a case within 180 days from the date on which the case is accepted for trial. During this time, session judges, additional session judges or assistant session judges must conclude the trial of a case within 360 days from the date of receipt of the case for trial.

The staggering backlog of criminal cases pending in the country’s courts is likely the source of frustration and resentment, not to mention declining people’s trust in the criminal justice system, some lawyers say. Legal proceedings must be conducted within a reasonable time. Lawyers also say that adequate opportunity should be given to parties to a case to make their case and produce evidence. The court ensures that the laws have been strictly observed, so that frequent adjournments can be avoided, but a recurring submission of time-consuming motions by the parties creates delays and makes it difficult to maintain the deadline. Courts alone cannot keep up with the timeline for trials if the parties do not cooperate. Meanwhile, some say the delay in trial proceedings is the result of a lack of sufficient numbers of judges and prosecutors. Delay in serving the subpoena, parties requesting frequent and long adjournments, and recurring demand for time from lawyers are other reasons why a case takes so long to resolve.

According to some jurists, a permanent and well-equipped prosecution service would help to develop the professionalism and quality of criminal justice in the long term. The development of criminal court infrastructure, with an innovative exploration of modern digital technology, is essential for the proper administration of criminal justice in Bangladesh.

Considering the legal maxim of “justice delayed is justice denied”, then a good number of judges should be recruited in the country as soon as possible, and a big investment in the modernization of the digital platform for justice is. essential to avoid excessive delays. . In addition, laws need to be changed to allow registration for filing through video conferencing or mobile apps such as WhatsApp on smartphones instead of issuing conventional summons. The acceleration of the economic development of the country depends not only on the development of infrastructure, but also on the overall development of the administration of justice, including the modernization of the digital platform of justice, in accordance with the best practices of the judicial systems of the countries. developed.

Dr Md Shamsul Arefin is the former Principal Secretary to Government and Assistant Professor at the Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM).

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