Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturda said the lead for legal and judicial reforms has to "come from within" and promised to "walk the extra mile" to match each step of the bar and the bench in this regard.
"Legal and judicial reform is not the concern only of the judiciary or the legislature -- it is equally the solemn responsibility of the executive and indeed of the bar," he said while inaugurating a national convention on 'Law, Justice and the Common Man' here.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who presided over the convention, voiced concern over pendency of 2.5 crore cases at various levels of judiciary and said that the "milestone legislation" of Gram Nayayalayas will ensure speedy disposal of these cases and give meaningful justice to common man.
The Prime Minister also struck a similar note saying that the strengths of Indian legal system, which are admired all over the world, are "somewhat diminished by the arrears and backlog of cases at every level of our judicial system."
Noting that justice should be "effective and firm", Gandhi said that UPA I and UPA II have brought a wealth of unprecedented legislative reforms from RTI, NREGA to the Women's Bill being passed in Rajya Sabha, "which is now to get the approval of Lok Sabha".
Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily made a strong plea for creation of a national data bank on lawyers belonging to Congress.
"So that we can found domain expertise...we can train them in different fields and ultimately we can also bond them in the mainstream of judiciary," he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the judiciary, the legislature and the executive should pool their wisdom, knowledge and experience to move forward in the area of legal reforms. "The lead, however, has to come from within."
"We promise to match each step of the bar and the bench with two of our own. We will not hesitate to walk the extra mile at every opportunity," he said.
He said the government would not be found wanting in tackling problems being faced in administration of justice.
"The government attaches great importance to the legal empowerment of common men. We believe that democracy would have little meaning for the common man and woman unless he or she is able to secure justice through the instrumentality of law," Singh said.
Noting that Gram Nyayalayas will bring justice at the doorsteps of common people, Singh asked states to initiate immediate action to operationalise this Act.
"Once the Act is fully implemented, we will have more than 5,000 courts at the intermediate panchayat level. These will bring justice to the doorstep of the common people," he said.