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Title: Litigating in the names of the people : stresses and strains of the development of public interest litigation in Bangladesh
Author: Ahmed, Naim
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis examines the development of public interest litigation (PIL) in Bangladesh from a constitutional perspective. PIL seeks to ensure accountability on the part of those in power, and socio-economic and collective justice for the general public, by giving priority of public interest over individual or special interests. Considering the socio-economic realities of Bangladesh, there is a huge potential for PIL to aid the poor, the deprived and the un-represented. In Bangladesh, the development of PIL began to accelerate after the fall of the last autocratic regime in 1990. The Supreme Court has gradually reinterpreted the Constitution in favour of PIL. Socio-economic and collective justice principles of the Constitution, it has been declared, not only inspire but mandate a PIL approach. However, the development of PIL in Bangladesh has not been a justice-focused grass-root movement. The thesis argues that the use of PIL in Bangladesh has been dominated by an elite whose main concern continues to be the redistribution of power in the aftermath of the autocratic rule. We analyse the use of PIL by the elite from several perspectives. First, the conceptual and constitutional basis of PIL, as expounded by the Bangladeshi courts, emphasises people's power rather than social justice. Second, the gradual progress of PIL cases demonstrates how it has been influenced by its close connection with recent constitutional and democratic developments. Third, the development of the rules of public interest standing illustrates the negative effects of the use of PIL by the elite for their own purposes. Fourth, analysis of relevant constitutional provisions demonstrates the extent of success of the attempts by constitutional activists to redefine power-relations through PIL, raising the question whether such attempts actually benefited the general public. The present thesis analyses the process of recognition of PIL as an integrated feature of the Bangladeshi law and argues that the use of the techniques of PIL by the elite to participate in the power-relations debate has actually undermined the much-needed focus on social and economic justice for the poor and the deprived.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral