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Courts in Bangladesh:

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The present Legal System of Bangladesh owes its origin mainly to 200 years British rule in Indian Sub Continent. The Constitution of Bangladesh provides the structure and function of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Besides that the Subordinate Courts in both Civil and Criminal has their legal basis in the Civil Courts Act, 1887 and the Criminal Procedure Code 1898. There are also some other special laws as the basis of some Special Courts such as Family Courts, Labour Court etc. In this article we will discuss the Court Structure or the existing Courts in Bangladesh.

Courts in Bangladesh

The Courts in Bangladesh can be discussed under the following 3 main heads: 

  1. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh
  2. Courts of Sessions and District Judges Courts (Subordinate Courts)
  3. Tribunals and Special Courts (Constitutes under Special Laws)
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The Supreme Court of Bangladesh

Article 94(1) of the Constitution of Bangladesh states that there shall be a Supreme Court for Bangladesh and to be known as “Supreme Court of Bangladeshcomprising 

(1) the Appellate Division and 

(2) the High Court Division

Article 103 of the Constitution of Bangladesh states that the Appellate Division shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine Appeals from Judgments, Decrees, Orders or Sentences of the High Court Division. The Appellate Division has no Original Jurisdiction. The source of the jurisdiction of the Appellate Division is the Constitution and Ordinary Laws. 

  • Constitutional Jurisdiction of the Appellate Division

(1) Appellate Jurisdiction: Article 103 of the Constitution conferred Appellate Jurisdiction to the Appellate Division to hear and determine Appeals from Judgments, decrees, orders or sentences of the High Court Division. 

(2) Jurisdiction as to issue and execution of process: Article 104 of the Constitution conferred Issue and Execution of processes Jurisdiction to the Appellate Division to issue such directions, orders, decrees or writs as may be necessary for doing complete justice in any matter pending before it. 

(3) Jurisdiction as to Review: Article 105 of the Constitution  conferred Review Jurisdiction to the Appellate Division to review its own Judgment or order

(D) Advisory Jurisdiction: Article 106 of the Constitution conferred Advisory Jurisdiction to the Appellate Division. According to Article 106, if at any time it appears to the President that a question of law has arisen, which is of such a public importance, he may refer the question to the Appellate Division for consideration and opinion of the Court. 

Article 101 of the Constitution of Bangladesh states that, the High Court Division shall have such Original, Appellate and other jurisdictions and powers as are conferred on it by this Constitution or any other law. The jurisdiction of the High Court Division can be divided into two Categories. 

  • Ordinary Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction conferred on the High Court Division by any Ordinary Law is called its ordinary jurisdiction. Which are as follows: 

(1) Original Jurisdiction: Original Jurisdiction means whereby it can take a case as a court of first instance. Such as the Companies Act 1994, the Admiralty Act 18861, the Banking Company’s Ordinance 1962 have conferred HCD the Original Jurisdiction. 

(2) Appellate Jurisdiction: Any Law may confer Appellate Jurisdiction on HCD on any matter. Such as Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1898, Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) 1908 have conferred Appellate Jurisdiction on HCD. 

(3) Revisional Jurisdiction: Revisional Jurisdiction means examining the decisions of it’s subordinate courts. Any law may confer it on HCD. Such as Section 115 of the CPC 1908. 

(4) Reference Jurisdiction: Reference Jurisdiction means whereby HCD can provide opinion and order on a case which is referred to it by any of it’s subordinate court. Such as Section 113 of the CPC 1908. 

  • Constitutional Jurisdiction 

Jurisdiction conferred on the High Court Division by the Constitution its called its Constitutional Jurisdiction. Which are as follows: 

A. Writ Jurisdiction: Article 102 of the Constitution conferred Writ Jurisdiction to the HCD. Writ Jurisdiction means whereby the HCD under the provisions of the Constitution enforce the fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution and also exercise the power of Judicial Review. Writ can be classified as follows

(1) Writ of Mandamus (Command): By which the  HCD Direct a person performing any functions in connection with the affairs of Republic or of a local authority, which he is required by law to do

(2) Write of Prohibition (Forbid): By which the HCD refrain from doing that which he is not permitted by law to do.

(3) Writ Certiorari (Be informed): By which HCD declare that any act done or proceeding taken by a person performing functions in connection with the affairs of the Republic or of a local authority has been done or taken without lawful authority and is no legal effect

(4) Writ of of Habeas Corpus (To have before the Court): By which HCD direct that a person in custody be brought before it so that it may satisfy it self that he is not being held in custody without lawful authority or in an unlawful manner

(5) Writ of Quo Warranto (By what Authority): By which HCD requiring a person holding or purporting to hold a public office to show under what authority he claims to hold that office

B. Jurisdiction as to Superintendence and Control over Subordinate Courts: Article 109 of the Constitution conferred Superintendence and Control Jurisdiction to HCD. It stated that, HCD shall have Superintendence and control over all courts and tribunals subordinate to it. 

C. Jurisdiction as to Transfer of Cases: Article 110 of the Constitution conferred Transfer of Cases Jurisdiction to HCD. It stated that HCD may transfer a case from subordinate court to itself. 

Subordinate Courts of Bangladesh

Subordinate Courts of Bangladesh can be classified as follows: 

  1. Subordinate Civil Courts 
  2. Subordinate Criminal Courts
  3. Tribunals & Special Courts

1. Subordinate Civil Courts

According to Section 3 of the Civil Courts Act 1887 there are Five classes of Subordinate Civil Courts in Bangladesh namely:

  1. The Court of District Judge 
  2. The Court of Additional District Judge 
  3. The Court of Joint District Judge 
  4. The Court of Senior Assistant Judge 
  5. The Court of Assistant Judge

Every Court mentioned above is a separate court and has jurisdiction as assigned to it by the Civil Courts Act 1887 and Code of Civil Procedure 1908. The Jurisdiction of the Civil Courts can be classified as follows: 

  1. Original Jurisdiction 
  2. Subject Matter Jurisdiction 
  3. Territorial Jurisdiction 
  4. Pecuniary Jurisdiction 
  5. Appellate Jurisdiction
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2. Subordinate Criminal Courts

According to Section 6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (CrPC) there are two types of Subordinate Criminal Courts, namely: 

A. Court of Sessions 

B. Court of Magistrates 

According to Section 9 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (CrPC) there are 3 types of Session Courts in Bangladesh. In the District Area the Session Courts as known as: 

  1. District Sessions Judge:  A Session Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law, but sentence of death shall be subject to confirmation by the High Court Division. 
  2. Additional District Sessions Judge: An Additional Session Judge may have all the powers of a Session Judge
  3. Joint District Session Judge: A  Joint Session Judge may pass sentence of Imprisonment not exceeding 10 Years

Accordingly in Metropolitan Area the Session Courts are known as follows: 

  1. Metropolitan Sessions Judge: May have similar power as a District Session Judge. 
  2. Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge:  May have all the powers of A Metropolitan Session Judge. 
  3. Joint Metropolitan Session Judge: May have similar powers of A Joint District Session Judge. 

According to Section 6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (CrPC) there are two classes of Magistrates, namely: 

1. Judicial Magistrate:

In District Level there are four types of Judicial Magistrate Courts, namely: 

  • Chief Judicial Magistrate Court: Chief Judicial Magistrate Court is the Highest Court among the Magistrate Courts. A Chief Judicial Magistrate may pass sentence of Imprisonment not exceeding 7 Years.
  • Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court: An Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate may exercise all the powers of the Chief Judicial Magistrate
  • Senior Judicial Magistrate Court:  1st Class Magistrates are holding the office of Senior Judicial Magistrate Court. They can pass sentence of Imprisonment not exceeding 5 Years and Fine not exceeding 10,000 (Ten Thousand) Taka. 
  • Judicial Magistrate Court: 2nd and 3rd Class Magistrates are holding the office of Judicial Magistrate Court. A 2nd Class Magistrate can pass sentence of Imprisonment not exceeding 3 Years and Fine not exceeding 5,000 (Five Thousand) Taka. A 3rd Class Magistrate can pass sentence of Imprisonment not exceeding 2 Years and Fine not exceeding 2,000 (Two Thousand) Taka.

In the Metropolitan Area there are three types of Judicial Magistrate Courts, namely: 

  • Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court: A Chief Metropolitan Magistrate shall have all the powers of a Chief Judicial Magistrate
  • Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court: An Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate may have all the powers of a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate
  • Metropolitan Magistrate Court: Metropolitan Magistrates are the 1st Class Magistrates. They have all the powers of a 1st Class Magistrate. 

2. Executive Magistrate: Executive Magistrates are also known as Administrative Magistrates. They have no exclusive judicial power. They are only entitle to exercise a limited trail power. Such as  under Section 100, Section 107, Section 144, Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1989 (CrPc) etc. 

3. Tribunals & Special Courts

Besides the Civil Courts and Criminal Courts there are also some Tribunals and Special Tribunals. Which are constitutes under special laws for dealing with some specific matters. Such as: 

  • Nari o Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunals
  • Druto Bichar Tribunal 
  • Cyber Tribunal 
  • Labour Courts
  • Administrative Tribunals
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunals
  • Artho Rin Adalat
  • Shishu Adalat

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