The Subordinate Courts and Tribunals of Bangladesh
There are a wide variety of subordinate courts and tribunals. Such courts and tribunals are the creatures of statutes. Their powers, functions and jurisdictions are also determined by the 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. Certain tribunals are termed as administrative tribunals. Such courts and tribunals spread all over the country at the district levels. The subordinate courts in Bangladesh can be divided in two broad classes, namely, civil courts and criminal 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. The Act provides for five tiers of civil courts in a district, which bottom-up are i) court of assistant judge, ii) court of senior assistant judge, iii) court of joint district judge, iv) court of additional district judge and v) court of district judge. The first three are courts of first instances with powers, functions and jurisdictions in respect of subject matter, territory and pecuniary value determined by or under statutes. The rest two are generally courts of appeal in civil matters.
In the structure of Courts of Session, there are three tiers of judges, namely, Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judge and Joint Sessions Judge. Judges of Sessions Courts try grave criminal offences. Sessions Judge and Additional Sessions Judge hold same powers, while Joint Sessions Judge enjoy lesser powers. A Sessions Judge and an Additional Sessions Judge may impose any penalty including the death penalty. No separate cadre of judges for criminal courts or courts of session is there. Generally career civil judges are appointed to act as judges in session courts in addition to their basic functions as civil judges.
Courts of Metropolitan Session Judges
The Courts of Sessions in the metropolitan areas of Dhaka and Chittagong have been separately organized as the Courts of Metropolitan Sessions Judges. Such courts are exclusively criminal courts to deal with only sessions cases. Judges appointed to such courts do not hear or try any civil matter, unlike judges of session courts in districts. These are a kind of relatively fast track criminal courts.
Apart from the aforesaid mainstream civil and criminal courts within the structure of the subordinate judiciary, there are a good number of special courts and tribunals, both civil and criminal, to deal with specific matters or offences. For example, in the civil area there are Labour Courts to deal with disputes under different labour related laws, Family Courts to deal with matrimonial matters, Money Loan Courts, Bankruptcy Courts, Income Tax Tribunals, Administrative Tribunals, Election Tribunals, etc. to deal with relevant matters. Similarly in the criminal area, there are Special Tribunals, Public Safety Tribunals, Courts Against Repression of Women and Children, etc. to deal with certain specified offences. All such courts and tribunals are also under the general superintendence and control of the Supreme Court.
Courts of Metropolitan Magistrate
The Courts of Magistrates in the metropolitan areas are organized separately as Courts of Metropolitan Magistrates. Each Metropolitan Magistracy has one Chief Metropolitan Magistrate as head of the Institution. All magistrates in a Metropolitan Magistracy are First Class Magistrates, unlike magistrates in a District Magistracy. They are exclusively criminal courts.
Courts of Magistrate
In the general structure of criminal courts, there are two basic tiers, namely, Courts of Magistrates and Courts of Session. This is so provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. There are three classes of Magistrates, namely, Magistrates of the first class, Magistrates of the second class and Magistrates of the third class. Such classification of Magistrates is made on the basis of powers and functions assigned to each class.
© Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh