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SC orders use of video conferencing for those who can’t afford lawyer

This Supreme Court order came on appeals in criminal cases in which two suspects accused of murder had received legal aid; in one case the suspect could not meet or talk to the lawyer.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2018 00:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Legal aid,Lawyer
The Supreme Court held that attempts to “to facilitate dialogue between the counsel and his client would further the cause of justice”.(AFP Photo)

To promote the cause of justice, legal services authorities in all states have been directed by the Supreme Court to provide video conferencing facilities between lawyers and clients as part of the free legal aid offered to people facing criminal charges who cannot afford a lawyer, the Supreme Court has ruled

“Very often we see that advocates who appear in matters entrusted by the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee do not have the advantage of having had a dialogue with either the accused or those who are in the know of the details about the case,” a bench consisting of justices A M Sapre and UU Lalit held in an August 14 ruling, “This at times seriously hampers the efforts on part of the advocates.”

This order came on appeals in criminal cases in which two suspects accused of murder had received legal aid; in one case the suspect could not meet or talk to the lawyer.

The top court held that attempts to “to facilitate dialogue between the counsel and his client would further the cause of justice and make legal aid meaningful”.

“We direct all Legal Services Authorities/Committees in every State to extend similar such facility in every criminal case wherever the accused is lodged in jail. They shall extend the facility of video conferencing between the counsel on one hand and the accused or anybody in the know of the matter on the other, so that the cause of justice is well served.”

Advocate Shikhil Suri, who appeared for the accused in the murder case, said, “It’s a landmark order and welcome step on the part of the Supreme Court. This order makes idea of legal aid more meaningful.”

“...It makes sense that lawyers are given a chance to speak to the accused and get a better understanding of the case so as to help the accused. This move ...will help the cause of justice,” said senior advocate Anil Mishra.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 22:32 IST