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Lighthouse at apex court for helpless justice seekers

By BSS, Dhaka
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Monsuruzzaman Khan, 56, a resident of Sutrapur area in the capital city, is physically challenged by birth. He was in a legal battle for a small piece of land in Matuail area since his father's death.
All the trial courts accepted his legal rights on that land, but the opposition party didn't comply with the court's orders, instead went to the High Court.
The High Court's decision also went to Khan, but his fight was still far from the end. His opponents filed a leave to appeal plea against the High Court order that made him totally helpless as he already lost his savings and almost all of his assets to the pro-long legal battle.
Khan, however, took a last chance and tried his luck by contacting Supreme Court Legal Aid Office (SCLAO) in November 9, 2016. SCLAO takes up his case and appointed a lawyer to fight the legal battle for him. With the help of SCLAO, Khan won his legal battle at the apex court too and ultimately got the possession of his land.
"Like Khan, anyone with financial inability or other problems can seek assistance of the legal aid office," Ripon Paul Sku, coordinator of SCLAO, told BSS.
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on September 8, 2015, officially inaugurated the SCLAO for ensuring rights of poor and distorted to get justice. A 12-member committee, headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim, oversees the activities of the aid office.
The committee has appointed 77 lawyers at the High Court Division and six lawyers at the Appellate Division to deal with the cases come to it.
The persons who are eligible to get the legal aid include physically, sexually and mentally abused women and children, victim of human traffickers, homeless or vagabond, people from ethnic minority communities, any person aggrieved by family violence or facing such danger, people receiving old age allowance and the person whose yearly income is not more than Taka 1, 50,000.
VGD card holder distressed mother, person allocated home or land in model villages, insolvent widows or woman abandoned by husband, people unable to testify in court in self-defence for poverty, people languishing in jail without trial and unable to move his case for lack of money and the people identified insolvent or financially distressed by court or jail can also get the legal aid, Ripon said.
The SCALO provides services include civil appeal and revision, criminal appeal and revision, jail appeal, writ petition, leave to appeal, legal advice, filing and dealing cases, expert opinion on the merit of the case and bearing the actual cost. Since its introduction, SCLAO has so far received 555 applications for cases of different natures and helped in disposing of 298 of them.
The committee has appointed 497 lawyers during to deal with the cases. It also provided legal opinion and advice to the 1232 legal aid clients for other issues.

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