President Pratibha Patil on Saturday said that legal services should be strengthened and made affordable for the poor, as low levels of legal access impede development.
"Litigation is not an in-expensive option. For the poor and disadvantaged sections of society approaching courts without legal aid is not possible. We must look at how to make justice more affordable whether it is in terms of court fees or lawyer's fees," Patil said.
"At the same time, we need to make our legal aid system robust, effective and competent. Low levels of legal awareness also impede access," she said.
Inaugurating a conference on access to justice and socio-economic development programmes in the North Eastern region at Machkhowa in Guwahati, Patil said "Lack of opportunities for equitable access to justice can create a division in society of those who "have" and those who "do-not-have" access to justice."
Efforts should also be made to employ information and communication technology to improve efficiency of courts, she said, adding that many High Courts place their cause lists and case status on their website.
This needs to percolate down to all sub-ordinate courts which would make judicial processes more transparent and predictable, the president said.
"As the courts look to the future, they must ask many questions as to what would be the role of the judiciary in the 21st century and how could there be inclusive justice," Patil said.