Village courts easing the path to justice: The story of Naogaon’s Kamona Rani

After a long and arduous path to justice, Naogaon’s Kamona Rani finally got it close to home, thanks to village courts, becoming more functional owing to the tri-party partnership of EU, UNDP and GoB to provide financial and technical support to activate village courts.

February 5, 2023

In 2021, Naogaon’s Kamona Rani, a widow with three children, had to file a case against her neighbours for trespassing on her cropland and damaging her painstakingly cultivated crops.

Resolute in her demand for justice, 48-year-old Kamona Rani, from Vimpur union in Mohadevpur upazila of the district, travelled 17 Km to Mohadevpur Police Station to file a case.

Not only did her neighbours damage her crops, they also physically assaulted her. She needed medical treatment after the incident, leading to a double blow to her finances.

Despite the severity of the crimes, the road to justice was not easy. The police station where Kamona filed the case forwarded it to the District Judge’s Court. 

This was even farther away—27 km from where the applicant lives, meaning more additions to an already costly and lengthy procedure. The process continued without any tangible results for almost six months, to Kamona’s utter dismay.

Kamona’s story is just one of many such incidents where a village court facilitated access to justice.

After six months with minimal progress, the district court referred Kamona’s case to Vimpur Union Parishad to resolve it through the village court (VC). VC registered Kamona’s case on February 10 last year and resolved it within 19 days under the Village Court Act;2006.

“I visited local leaders for a solution to the dispute but to no avail. Desperate for a solution, my son-in-law and I went to the police station and district court five times to follow up on the case. I had to spend BDT 28,000 (USD 292) to cover our travel costs, food, and lawyer fees. I also lost money in terms of daily wages throughout the duration of the court case. I was mentally distraught, and my family was always worried that the opponents could harm us,” says Kamona Rani.

The village court on March 1 that same year delivered its verdict unanimously in favour of Kamona and ordered the respondent to pay USD 115 (BDT 11,000) as compensation for Kamona’s sufferings. She was paid in full that very day.

Kamona’s story is just one of many such incidents where a village court facilitated access to justice. In fact, even the respondent feel they were saved from the hassle of dealing with the district court.

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Phase II Project is making village courts functional at 1,080 unions with financial support and a tri-partnership with the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Bangladesh. A total of 473,000 individuals have accessed justice through the village courts since July 2017. For More Information Click Here