Public Interest Litigation in Bangladesh a Case Study127PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION IN BANGLADESH:A CASE STUDYMuhd. Rafiqauzzaman*This case study is about a public interest litigation that was brought beforethe Supreme Court of Bangladesh for enforcement of the rights of theconsumers of edible salt. The case study indicts how public interestlitigation (PIL) is being adopted and developed in Bangladesh to enforcethe fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and how a particularlegal aid organization the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust(BLAST)1has tried to provide access to justice while also addressing majorlegal issues on a systemic level. The other important questions this casestudy highlights are some of the major barriers to institutionalizing publicinterest litigation and the role of support organizations in this regard.Finally, it will try to after some guidelines for sustaining public interestlitigation. Part one of this case study provides the historical background ofthe legal system of Bangladesh. BLAST’s organizational set up as a nationallegal aid NGO and its endeavors to provide access to justice are discussedin Part Two. Part Three offers a glimpse of how PIL is being developeddistinctively in the context of our legal system. The application of PIL to aparticular case seeking enforcement of the rights of consumers of iodizedsalt is discussed in Part Four, and the problems facing PIL are elicited inPart Five. Part Six is the general conclusion, which outlines the necessaryconditions required for PIL to be effective in bringing changes.•Muhd. RafiqauzzamanLL.B.(Hons) and LL.M. Dhaka University, LL.M. NewYork University, New York.I am very grateful to Diana Hortsch, Director of Global Public Service LawProject of New York University, for her encouragement, insightful suggestions,and comments that contributed greatly to the final shape of the case study.1BLAST is a non profit Trust established in 1993 provides legal aid for establishedvalid claims of and protection for the marginalized and the poor through thejudicial system of Bangladesh. It has now emerged as the largest free legal aidservices organization of the country.
6:1&2 (2002) Bangladesh Journal of Law128BACKGROUNDBangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign state on December16, 1971, but has a long political and legal history. In ancient times, it wasruled by the local Hindu rulers. The administered justice according to localcustomary laws based on religion. At the beginning of the 13thcentury thearea was invaded by the Muslims who ruled the country up to the middleof the 18thcentury. Muslim rules introduced Islamic administration ofjustice. Later, though the British came to Indian Sub-continent at thebeginning of the 17thcentury, they were not able to establish politicalauthority over Bengal and ultimately over the whole of Indian Sub-continent until the middle of 18thcentury. The British imposed their legal