NEW DELHI: Prompt and affordable justice is the “legitimate expectation” of the people and the various organs of the state have a collective responsibility to ensure it, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday.
The Justice Minister, while speaking at the launch of a six-week pan-India Legal Awareness and Awareness Campaign of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), also underscored the need to strengthen the legal education system in the country.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana were also present at the launch of the campaign here.
“I would like to remind everyone that the speedy and affordable delivery of justice is the legitimate expectation of the people and is the collective responsibility of the various organs of the state,” the minister said, adding that it is important that all stakeholders work together to “achieve this mandate”.
Rijiju said that access to justice has been recognized as an integral part of the legal framework prescribed by the Constitution and that in order to achieve and realize this vision, better collaboration between the legal services authority, the various government departments and the judiciary will be necessary.
He also said that efforts should be made to ensure that mediation becomes the preferred mode of resolving commercial disputes, as it will ease the burden on courts and bring investment into the country, which will make business and life easier.
“In this regard, efforts should be to limit adjournments to the strict minimum and mediation should be the preferred mode of resolving commercial disputes, which would not only reduce the burden on courts but also build confidence in the Indian legal system. so that more investment can be attracted,” he said.
Efforts must be made to strengthen legal education, and law schools and universities have heavy responsibilities on their shoulders in this regard, Rijiju said, adding that “today’s law students are the lawyers and the judges of tomorrow”.
The Union Minister said the quality of education and training for law students will contribute to their future success and upholding the rule of law.
He said “legal illiteracy” is one of the obstacles for those who are unaware of their rights under central and state government laws and social welfare schemes, which hampers prompt justice.
He said coming into contact with the justice system can be a difficult experience for many people due to its complexity.
“For the poor and marginalized group, the justice system can be difficult to understand and navigate due to various barriers such as lack of financial resources, awareness due to insufficient local language proficiency, and long distance to reach a legal service provider,” Rijiju said.
He said legal aid is the only way for these people to overcome the obstacles and praised NALSA and the state justice authorities for playing an exemplary role in bringing justice to citizens.
The minister said that the authorities of the legal service sensitize people on their rights and duties on various laws and schemes relating to children, workers, SC-ST, people with disabilities.
“The authorities of the judicial service affect the lives of victims, victims of trafficking, acid attack, sexual exploitation.
Each program demonstrates that our legal services authorities are committed to helping disadvantaged people realize their legal rights and build secure futures,” he said.
He said so far more than 90,000 people have been assisted by legal services authorities to access their food, medicine and shelter needs.
“They also use their colossal network to reach people in remote areas. One particular work that I applaud is Lok Adalat, especially e-Lok Adalat,” Rijiju said.
Rijiju, however, stressed that there needs to be better collaboration between legal service authorities and various government departments and agencies to realize the vision and build on the work done so far.
Supreme Court Justices Justice UU Lalit and Justice AM Khanwilkar were also part of the event.