Advocate and vice president of MRCC (Mumbai Regional Congress Committee), Vijay Singh has written to the minority affairs minister, Naseem Khan, asking him to extend legal aid for all undertrials who are unable to arrange lawyers owing to their poor financial condition and, thereby, languishing in jails.
“Many accused persons are lodged in jails for years together without trial. There is a need to help them to get a fair trial,” Singh said. He has suggested building a system where such prisoners are provided legal aid, so that their cases can be disposed of early.
“We can take the help of law students to conduct a survey of poor prisoners who have been in the jail for years. These students can segregate the cases to whom legal aid can be extended, and their cases can be prioritised,” Singh suggested.
Singh said if the number of prisoners needing legal aid is much more than advocates available with the legal aid panel, then the services and advice of other advocates of the bar council can also be sought.
Advocate KP Pawar, a lawyer on the legal aid penal, who had represented 26/11 terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab, said that there is a need to spread awareness in the jail about the services of legal aid. “Many prisoners are not aware of the concept of legal aid. They are languishing in jails without trial because of their ignorance,” Pawar said. Pawar suggested that the government should open an office of the legal aid consultant in the jail premises, which would help these prisoners. “We need to develop a link between the prisoners and the court by which the prisoners can be guided to approach the court,” he said.