Ease of justice as important as ease of living, ease of doing business: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi implored the judiciary to speed up release of undertrials who remain incarcerated for want of legal aid
Ease of justice is as important as ease of doing business and ease of living, Prime Minsister Narendra Modi emphasised on Saturday while imploring judiciary to speed up release of undertrials who remain incarcerated for want of legal aid.
Speaking at the inaugural session of first all India district legal services authorities meet in New Delhi, Modi underscored the role of legal aid in ascertaining access to justice for all, especially the marginalised sections that have always reposed faith in the judicial system.
“A few days from today, the country is completing 75 years of its independence. This is the time of the elixir of our freedom. This is the time for taking the resolutions which will take the country to new heights in the next 25 years. Ease of Justice is as important as the ease of doing business and ease of living in this journey of the country,” he said, highlighting the function of legal services authority in achieving this goal.
The common man believes that if no one listens, the doors of the court are always open, the PM said. “This belief of justice makes every countryman realise that the systems of the country are protecting his rights. With this idea, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) was established so that even the weakest of the weak could get the right to justice. Specifically, our district legal services authorities (DLSAs) are like building blocks of our legal aid system,” he added.
Focussing on the issue of undertrials, which constitute 2/3rd of the inmates in prisons across the country, Modi earmarked a role for the DLSAs that are headed by district judges who also lead the undertrial review committees.
“Sensitivity has been shown several times in the past by the Supreme Court on the humanitarian issue related to undertrial prisoners in the country. There are so many prisoners who have been languishing in jails for years, awaiting legal aid. Our district legal services authorities can take up the responsibility of providing legal aid to these prisoners,” he said.
Referring to the attendance of district judges from across the country to attend the meet, the PM urged the judicial officers to expedite the release of undertrial prisoners in capacity as chairmen of the district level undertrial review committees. He also commended the NALSA for undertaking a focussed campaign on the release of undertrial prisoners through legal aid and wished them utmost success in this endeavour.
Modi spoke after Chief Justice of India NV Ramana’s address, in which the Supreme Court judge also appealed the district judicial officers to intervene in securing “much deserved relief for undertrials”.
Earlier, justice Uday U Lalit, the Supreme Court judge who is also the executive chairman of NALSA, spoke at the event announcing NALSA’s plan to put in place legal aid defence counsel offices in maximum possible districts to institutionalise a system so that people could have a better and smoother access of legal assistance.
The issue of undertrial prisoners was also one of the moot points addressed by PM Modi when he spoke at the joint conference of chief ministers of states and high court chief justices in April. “Today, there are about 3.5 lakh prisoners in the country who are undertrials and are in jail. Most of these people are from poor or ordinary families. In every district there is a committee headed by the district judge, so that these cases can be reviewed and wherever possible, such prisoners may be released on bail. I would appeal to all chief ministers and chief justices of high courts to give priority to these matters on the basis of humanitarian sensibility and law,” the PM said at that event.
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Meanwhile, on Saturday, Modi further noted the significance of the use of technology in assisting the justice delivery system. “I am happy that under the direction of the Supreme Court, the judicial system of the country is moving fast in this direction. Under the e-Courts Mission, virtual courts are being started in the country. Courts have started functioning round the clock for crimes like traffic violations. Video conferencing infrastructure is also being expanded in the courts for the convenience of the people,” he said.
The PM pointed out that more than 1 crore cases have been heard through video-conferencing in district courts till date whereas about 60 lakh cases have been heard in high courts and the Supreme Court as well.
“What we adopted as an alternative at the time of Corona is now becoming a part of the system. This is proof that our justice system is also committed to the ancient Indian values of justice and is ready to match the realities of the 21st century. The credit for this goes to all of you dignitaries. I appreciate all of your efforts,” said Modi adding that legal services authorities ought to make maximum use of the power of technology for delivering justice to the common man.
“A common man should be familiar with his rights in the Constitution, be familiar with his duties, he should be aware of his Constitution, and constitutional structures, know the rules and remedies, the rules and remedies, and the technology can also play a big role in this,” he further said.
The PM also addressed the issue of judicial infrastructure, which, he said, plays a pivotal role in delivery of justice. “In the last eight years, work has been done at a fast pace to strengthen the country’s judicial infrastructure. ₹9,000 crore is being spent to modernise the judicial infrastructure. The number of court halls in the country has also increased. This speed in the construction of judicial infrastructure will also speed up justice delivery,” stressed the PM.