The figure of ombudsman, with its current characteristics, owes its origin from Sweden; however, its roots may be found in ancient history. Within the Islamic legal system, for example, during the era of Abbasids, complaint handling agencies called "Diwan Al Mazalim" were established. These institutions seen to have been headed by a senior judge. Under Turkish rule the "Quadi al Quadat" the "judge of judges," exercised a similar function. Indeed, it has been suggested the idea of establishing an ombudsman occurred to the Swedish King Charles XII when he -- having suffered defeat at the hands of the Russian army at Poltava -- for a number of years was the guest of the Sultan in Turkey in the early 1700s.
The first Swedish ombudsman took office in 1809 and gradually the concept spread around the globe. As of 2005, including national and sub-national level, a total of 129 offices of ombudsman has been established around the world. Through the establishment of these offices of ombudsman, people's confidence in the executive branches has been regained.
Constitution of Bangladesh has provision for ombudsman in Article 77: "Parliament may, by Law, provide for the establishment of the office of Ombudsman." Article 77(2) states: "The ombudsman shall exercise such powers and perform such functions as parliament may, by Law, determine, including the power to investigate any action taken by a ministry, a public officer or a statutory public authority."
It is expected that the ombudsman will act as a watchdog against maladministration, abuse and incompetence that causes harm or loss to the aggrieved citizen. Hence it is essential to ensure transparency, accountability and to curb corruption at all level of administration in Bangladesh.
Nowadays the Anti-Corruption Commission is functioning effectively, so the justification for an ombudsman may be questioned. However, the ACC is not an alternative to the ombudsman since only abuse of power for financial or other material gain comes under the jurisdiction of ACC. Jurisdiction of different guardian institutions needs to be distinctly identified to avoid overlapping and complementary role between the ombudsman and other pillars of national integrity system should be explored further.