BLAST supports access to justice for indigenous peoples/Adivasis in both the plains and in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the plains, BLAST has provided legal aid to Adivasi individuals and communities, including by conducting investigations and providing legal assistance and representation. It has taken up cases involving the right to property, expropriation of land through arbitrary application of the Vested Property Act and evictions of landless people, as well as the issue of distribution of khas land. It has also taken up cases of arbitrary arrest or custodial ill-treatment, as well as extra-judicial executions of Adivasi activists.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is composed of three districts whose population has historically been majority indigenous. The CHT districts are governed according to, among others, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900, which establishes a distinct legal framework for the area, intended to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples/Adivasis (‘tribals’). Land seizure has been a significant problem in the CHT districts. BLAST challenged one such seizure on behalf of ten indigenous persons. BLAST argued that Section 3 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958, under which the Deputy Commissioner allegedly acquired the land, violates Articles 7 and 42 of the Constitution inasmuch as it vests arbitrary power to the Deputy Commissioner to acquire lands without issuance of any notice upon the occupier for raising objection and without fixation and payment of compensation. The High Court issued a Rule Nisi on 19.05.2005 in each of the ten cases directing the respondents to show cause as to why Section 3 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958 should not be declared ultra vires to the Constitution and also stayed the operation of the notice till disposal of the Rule.
BLAST has also challenged the lack of separation of executive and judiciary in the CHT districts. Under the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900, the Chittagong Deputy Commissioner, an executive official, was empowered to hear criminal appeals and all civil disputes except family matters. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation Amendment Act, 2003 provided for establishment of courts in the CHT districts, but it was not implemented until BLAST obtained a judgment from the High Court ordering implementation. There has been progress in the administration of justice for indigenous and non-indigenous persons alike in the CHT districts, but BLAST continues to monitor the situation and advocate for improving the situation to better enforce the rights of indigenous persons.
Public Interest Litigation
- Name of the Parties: Aberchai Mog and others vs. Joint District Judge, Khagrachari and others
Writ Petition No. 2829 of 2006 and Writ Petition No 3285 of 2009
Issue: Adivashi Rights
Law: Constitution of Bangladesh; Chittagong Hill-Tracts Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2003; Chittagong Hill-Tracts Regulation, 1900 (Regulation 1 of 1900);Khagrachari Parbotyo Jela Parishad Ain 1989, Three (3) Hill District Councils Act 1989, Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act 2001.
Reported: 19 BLC (HCD) (2014) 358
- Bangladesh Legal Aid Services and Trust vs. Bangladesh and others [Chittagong Hill Tracts Courts Case]
Writ Petition No. 606 of 2006
61 DLR (2009) 109
Full Text (Available in Bangla Only)
- BLAST and others vs. Additional Divisional Commissioner, Chittagong and others [ADC's Powers Case]
Writ Petition No. 7013 of 2004
- BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh and others [Rangamati Eviction Case]
Writ Petition No. 6302 of 2006
- Ten Writ Petitions on behalf of indigenous persons in Dighinala Mouza in Khagrachari District regarding land acquisition by the Deputy Commissioner:
- Lambachiri Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ petition No. 3455 of 2005
- Shanti Pada Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3456 of 2005
- Ranjan Mala Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3457 of 2005
- Natun Chandra Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3458 of 2005
- Chitra Sen Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3459 of 2005
- Tabida Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3460 of 2005
- Suraranjan Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3461 of 2005
- Shashi Mohan Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3462 of 2005
- Jator Kumar Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3463 of 2005
- Shadhon Kumar Chakma vs. Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 3464 of 2005
- BLAST and ASK vs. Bangladesh and others [Chittagong Hill Tracts Family Courts Case]
Writ Petition No. 2813 of 2009
Legal Aid Cases: