Bangladesh is a common law based jurisdiction. Many of the basic laws of Bangladesh such as penal code, civil and criminal procedural codes, contract law and company law are influenced by English common laws. However family laws such as laws relating to marriage, dissolution of marriage and inheritance are based on religious scripts, and therefore differ between religious communities.
The Bangladeshi legal system is based on a written constitution and the laws often take statutory forms which are enacted by the legislature and interpreted by the higher courts. Ordinarily executive authorities and statutory corporations cannot make any law, but can make by-laws to the extent authorized by the legislature. Such subordinate legislation is known as rules or regulations and is also enforceable by the court. Yet being a common law system, the statutes are short, and set out basic rights and responsibilities but are elaborated by the courts in their application and interpretation of those. In addition, certain customs and practices established over a period are also to some extent recognized as acceptable and are enforced by the courts.
Since 1971 Bangladesh’s legal system has been updated in areas of company, banking, bankruptcy and Money Loan Court laws and other commercial laws.
Courts in Bangladesh:
The Judiciary of Bangladesh acts through the (i) The Superior Judiciary having Appellate, Revision & Original Jurisdiction & (2) Sub-Ordinate Judiciary having Original Jurisdiction
The Supreme Court:
Bangladesh Supreme Court is the highest court of Bangladesh, have two divisions:
- Appellate Division
- High Court Division
The Appellate Division (AD):
Appeal to the Appellate Division from the judgment, decrees, order and sentences made by the High Court Division are to be filed directly for the following reasons- (i) If there is a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution and HCD certifies it; (ii) If the HCD confirms sentenced to death or imprisonment for life; (iii) If HCD punishes for contempt of court cases; except the above mentioned cases you have to file a leave to appeal and it is the discretionary power of the court to accept/grant or reject the appellate petitions.
The High Court Division (HCD):
The HCD shall have appellate jurisdiction from the lower Courts. HCD can also exercise the power of original jurisdiction in certain cases such as i) Admiralty matters, ii) Company matters, iii) Writ Jurisdiction.
Sub-ordinate Civil courts:
The following five civil courts exist in general hierarchy:
- District Judge Court: It has original, appellate, revisional, transfer, review and reference jurisdiction. If suit valuation is more than Tk. 5 crores then appeal/revision lies to the HCD;
- Additional District Judge Court: It has same powers as to the District Judge but can exercise his power only if the District Judge refers any matter to him;
- Joint District Judge Court: It has jurisdiction if the suit valuation is from BDT 25,00,001 up-to unlimited;
- Senior Assistant Judge Court: It has jurisdiction if the suit valuation is from BDT 15,00,001 up-to BDT 25,00,000;
- Assistant Judge Court: It has jurisdiction if the suit valuation is less than BDT 15,00,000.00.
Sub-ordinate Criminal courts:
Sub-ordinate Criminal courts are sub-divided into two categories:
There are three session courts in district level (i.e. out of the Metropolitan areas);
- District Session Judge Court: Original, appellate, revision, transfer and reference jurisdiction; and can pass any judgment and try any cases but death sentence must be confirmed by the HCD;
- Additional District Session Judge Court: No original jurisdiction; and can try cases referred by the District session judge court;
- Joint District Session Judge Court: can pass sentence up-to ten years imprisonment.
Accordingly in the Metropolitan areas there are three Metropolitan Session courts;
- Metropolitan Session Judge Court
- Additional Metropolitan Session Judge Court
- Joint Metropolitan Session Judge Court:
These Courts have the same jurisdiction as their counterparts have in session courts; but their territorial jurisdiction is limited only in the metropolitan areas.
Magistrate courts are of two kinds,
(a) Executive Magistrate: Is mainly an administrative Magistrate, holds the limited trial power in Mobile Courts generally.
(b) Judicial Magistrate:
There are four types of Judicial Magistrate courts in district level;
- Chief Judicial Magistrate Court: The highest court of the Magistracy. Can usually take cognizance of any criminal offence and punish the offender up to 5 years imprisonment and ten thousand taka.
- Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court: Can exercise a case as referred by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
- Senior Judicial Magistrate Court: It is a 1st class Magistrate’s court, can usually sentence a punishment of 5 years’ imprisonment and 10,000 taka fine.
- Judicial Magistrate Court: It is a 2nd or 3rd class Magistrate’s court. 2nd class Magistrates can inflict a punishment of 3 years imprisonment and BDT 5,000 fine and 3rd class Magistrates can give a punishment of 2 years imprisonment and BDT 2,000 fine.
Accordingly in the Metropolitan areas there are three Metropolitan Magistrate courts;
- Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court
- Additional Metropolitan Session Judge Court
- Metropolitan Magistrate Court
All Metropolitan Magistrates are 1st class Magistrate.
These Courts have the same jurisdiction as their counterparts have in Judicial Magistracy; but their territorial jurisdiction is limited only in the metropolitan areas.
- Labour Courts: Labour Court deals with cases arising from labour disputes.
- Administrative Tribunals: Administrative Tribunals exercise its power regarding service disputes of public servants.
- Income Tax Appellate Tribunals: Income Tax Appellate Tribunals exercise its power regarding income tax disputes, custom and excise matters. VAT Appellate Tribunals decide disputes regarding custom and excise duties and VAT.
- Money Loan Courts: Artha Rin Adalats decide money claims of banks and other financial institutions.
- Insolvency Courts: Insolvency Courts declare defaulting borrowers as insolvent.