NEW DELHI: Speedy and affordable delivery of justice is the “legitimate expectation” of the people and different organs of the State have a collective responsibility to ensure this, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday.
The law minister, while speaking at the launch of a six-week-long ‘Pan India Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign’ of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), also stressed on the need for strengthening the legal education system in the country.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Justice of India Justice N V Ramana were also present at the campaign’s launch here.
“I would like to remind us all that the speedy and affordable delivery of justice is the legitimate expectation of the people and is the collective responsibility of the different organs of the State,” the minister said, adding that it is important that all stakeholders work together to “deliver this mandate”.
Rijiju said that access to justice has been recognised as the integral part of the legal framework prescribed under the Constitution and to achieve and realise this vision, better collaboration between the legal services authority, various departments of the government and the judiciary will be needed.
He also said efforts should be made to ensure that mediation becomes the preferred mode of deciding commercial disputes as this will lessen the burden on courts and bring investments in the country, leading to ease of doing business and ease of living.
“In this regard endeavours should be to restrict the adjournments to the bare minimum and mediation should be the preferred mode for litigation for commercial disputes, and this would not only lessen the burden of courts but also boost the confidence in the Indian legal system so that more investment can be attracted,” he said.
Efforts should be made to strengthen legal education, and law colleges and universities have onerous responsibilities on their shoulders in this regard, Rijiju said, adding that “today’s law students are tomorrow’s lawyers and judges”.
The Union minister said that the quality of education and training of law students will contribute to their success in the future and upholding the rule of law.
He said “legal illiteracy” is one of the barriers for those who are not aware of their entitlements under the welfare laws and schemes of the central and state governments and this comes in the way of speedy justice.
He said that contact with the justice system can be a challenging experience for many people due to its complexity.
“For the poor and marginalised group, the justice system can be difficult to understand and navigate due to various obstacles such as lack of financial resources, awareness due to insufficient command of the local language, and long-distance to reach a legal service provider,” Rijiju said.
He said that legal aid is the only means for such people to overcome the barriers and extolled NALSA and state legal authorities for performing exemplary roles in bringing justice to the doorstep of citizens.
The minister said legal service authorities make people aware of their entitlement and duties on various laws and schemes relating to children, labourers, SC-ST, persons suffering from disabilities.
“The legal service authorities touch upon the lives of disaster victims, victims of trafficking, acid attack, sexual exploitation.
Each scheme is testimony to the fact that our legal service authorities are committed to help disadvantaged persons in realizing their legal rights and build a secure future,” he said.
He said that more than 90 lakh people so far have been facilitated by the legal service authorities in accessing their need for food, medicine, and shelter.
“They are also using their colossal network to reach out to people in remote areas. Particular work that I applaud is the Lok Adalat, especially the e-Lok Adalat,” Rijiju said.
Rijiju, however, emphasised that there needs to be better collaboration between legal service authorities and various departments and agencies of the government to achieve the vision and build on the work accomplished so far.
Judges of the Supreme Court Justice U U Lalit and Justice A M Khanwilkar were also part of the event.