New Delhi,09.11.2015::The 21st National Legal Services Day was today celebrated amid a call to ensure reasonable fair and justice procedure for all citizens. Inaugurating the celebrations here in New Delhi today Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi emphasized on the urgency of striving for reducing the gap between the rich and poor litigants for a fair justice delivery. He said the notion of free legal aid finds its roots in the idea that no individual should have to undergo trial in the absence of a proper legal assistance. Referring to NALSA’s efforts including legal aid clinics, Lok Adalats, prison legal aid clinics, and awareness programmes the Prime Minister said while legal assistance and legal aid clinics are essential, increasing legal awareness and empowerment is a key component in ensuring better justice delivery. The prominence of making people aware of their legal rights and duties becomes more acute where marginalized groups and the poor are concerned.In his Presidential address Union Law and Justice Minister Shri DV Sadananda Gowda said Article 39A of the Constitution gives mandate to offer free legal services for the poor. The notion of free legal aid finds its roots in the idea that no individual should have to undergo trial in the absence of legal assistance. A trial in which a poor or indigent person is not represented legally would be regarded as unreasonable and unjust. Free legal service is an inalienable element of reasonable fair and justice procedure. NALSA plays a critical role in ensuring that this constitutional guarantee is secured.
Remembering Late Justice V.R.Krishna Ayyar’s belief that “Society is guilty if anyone suffers unjustly.” the minister said today is an appropriate occasion to keep this thought in mind. The idea which started working in the form of National Level Committee to oversee legal aid programmes has taken the shape of creation of institutions such as National and State Legal Service Authorities. For almost three decades now, NALSA has been working towards the noble goal of providing legal aid and services to the citizens in need. Extending his greetings and good wishes to all the members and officers present on the occasion Shri Gowda said the forefathers of the philosophy of legal aid – the Late Justice VR Krishna Iyer, and Justice Bhagwati, continue to inspire us today.
The minister referred to the international community’s new adopted agenda for sustainable development at the United Nations, resulting in new goals that build on the eight Millennium Development Goals identified earlier. He said of relevance to today’s discussion is the Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. A key target for this goal is to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all. I look forward to the participation and role played by NALSA and its networks in ensuring that India achieves this goal by the target year of 2030.
One of the first steps taken towards this goal would be to address the issue of the 68% of under trial prisoners lodged in various prisons. The Government joins hands with NALSA towards addressing this issue. This is the kind of cooperation and coordination that must be replicated to reduce the population of under trials. NALSA and the other State level institutions must seize this opportunity.
In his key note address Justice T.S.Thakur, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Executive Chairman NALSA referred to the launching of seven schemes and gave a detailed account of the work done through the organization of Lok Adalats across the country for a speedy and satisfactory justice delivery to the stake holders.
On this occasion, NALSA Awards were also conferred to the members of legal fraternity from across the country for taking unique and creative initiatives for ensuring fair justice to those who need it.