SOAS University of London

School of Law

Biswajit Chanda

LLB (Honours), LLM
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  • Research


Bizwat Chanda
Mr Biswajit Chanda
Email address:
Thesis title:
Family Law Reform in Bangladesh: The Need for a Culture-Specific Legal System
Year of Study:
Year of Entry 2006
Internal Supervisors


Assistant Professor, Department of Law and Justice, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Was an Advocate to the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in Dhaka and the District Judges Court in Khulna.

Writes expert reports on Bangladeshi law, society, culture and politics; Family Law; Muslim Law; Hindu Law, Human Rights.

Writes authenticity reports on Bangladeshi legal/judicial documents.

PhD Research

In the context of legal pluralism in the postmodern family laws of Bangladesh, this research focuses primarily on the scope for reforms of different family laws. It argues, from a theoretical perspective of legal pluralism, that since law and culture are closely linked, reforms in existing family laws should be introduced to provide a culture-specific legal system that provides the maximum possible justice to all people, women, men and children of different communities in Bangladesh. Much new effort would also need to be directed towards seeking to improve justice delivery, which has remained highly deficient in many respects in Bangladesh.

After the colonial rulers left Bangladesh with a deeply pluralistic legal structure, old and new state-made secular laws applicable for criminal, civil or land related issues co-exist with different religious and customary laws on personal or family matters, known as personal laws.

Existing literature observes that it has been a standard technique in modern South Asian countries to reform the majority law and to keep the minority laws untouched. Bangladeshi state has made only some procedural changes to the majority Muslim family law and remains silent about the minority Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and indigenous family laws. This is incompatible with basic constitutional provisions and the state’s commitment to international humanitarian laws and requires urgent debate and academic analysis.

The thesis argues that a new reform programme needs to be contemplated by the Bangladeshi state, focusing mainly on updating the minority personal laws. In this context, the study discovers that the ‘modern’ idea of a uniform civil code, which has turned into a postmodern reality in neighbouring India, should no longer block the minds of reform-conscious Bangladeshis who fear that uniformisation would mean secularisation of Bangladeshi laws in a manner unacceptable to the majority. This Indian model suggests in fact that uniformisation of personal laws is not a realistic option. The thesis therefore argues that harmonisation of the various personal laws, without giving up the basic personal law structure, would be an appropriate way forward also for Bangladesh, but in addition the state should strengthen an optional secular system for people who prefer to use that model as well as update the personal law system.


  • ‘South Asian Law: Islamic Law’ in Katz, Stanley N. (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press (OUP), 2009. Vol. 5, pp. 306-311.
  • ‘Bangladesh’ (on Legal System of Bangladesh) in Katz, Stanley N. (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History. New York and Oxford: OUP, 2009. Vol. 1, pp. 257-260.
  • ‘Development of Criminal Law in Bangladesh’. Rajshahi University Studies, Part-A, Vol. XXXI, 2003, pp. 1-11.
  • Edited (with Prof Werner Menski), Cancer of Extremism in Bangladesh: Proceedings of the European Human Rights Conference on Bangladesh: Extremism, Intolerance & Violence, London: CEMS, SOAS 2005. 147 pp


  • Presented a paper titled ‘Gender Justice and Family Laws: Is the Uniform Family Code a Practical Solution?’ at the International Workshop on Reflections on Violence and Empowerment: Gender Justice in Bangladesh, held at the British Council in Dhaka on 29 March 2009 and at the University of Dhaka on 25 March 2009
  • Presented a paper titled ‘Management of Religion and Law in South Asia with Special Reference to Personal Laws’ at the Workshop on State Management of Religion in Pakistan, held at King's College, University of Cambridge on 10 October 2008
  • Presented a paper titled ‘Personal Laws in Bangladesh: A Search for Harmonisation’, at the International Workshop on Management of Gender Relations in Bangladeshi Law, held at SOAS on 18 June 2008
  • Presented a paper titled ‘To What Extent Would Personal Law Empower Women’, in the International Workshop on ‘From Patriarchy to Empowerment: Gender and Law in Bangladesh held at University of Dhaka, 16 March 2008
  • Presented a paper titled ‘Legal Pluralism and Family Law Reform in Bangladesh’, at the International Conference on Law, Pluralism and Cultural Diversity, held at the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, India from 11-13 March 2008 organised jointly by the University of Leipzig, Germany and NUJS Kolkata
  • Attended the NELN Workshop on Integrated Product Policy and the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle: Environmental Responsibility, Liability, and Sustainability of Products from 2-4 December 2007 at the University of Aarhus, Denmark as a Referent and wrote a report on the workshop
  • Lectured on ‘Religion and Politics: Legacy of the Past, Challenges of the Present: A Case Study of Bangladeshi Family Law’ in the course The Law in Muslim Contexts and Religion, Society and Politics for German diplomats organised by German Federal Foreign Office at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, 4-5 June 2007.


Specialist Associate, Asian Legal Advice Service (ALAS), Leicester/London


South Asian Law, Law and Society, Law and Culture, Personal Laws or Family Laws, Bangladeshi law, Muslim Law, Hindu Law, Religion and Politics; Human Rights

Conduct research and write Expert Reports on Bangladeshi law, society, culture and politics; Family Law; Muslim Law; Hindu Law, Human Rights, Domestic Violence, Christians in Bangladesh, Medical or Mental Health services in Bangladesh.
Write Authenticity Reports on Bangladeshi legal/judicial documents.