Support legal aid programme: CJI
The Chief Justice of India, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, on Sunday called upon the stakeholders in judicial system to extend whole-hearted support to the para-legal and legal aid training programme conceived by the National Legal Services Authority. Launching the nation-wide training programme at the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, the Chief Justice said the programme was launched with the objective of ensuring access to justice for the marginalised sections. Noting that conduct of ‘lok adalats’ and provision of legal services to the poor and needy through the NLSA and State-level LSAs had not brought in the desired results in terms of providing speedy justice, Mr. Balakrishnan said mass mobilisation of individuals with the inclination and capability to provide legal assistance to the poor and needy would help prevent legal disputes. “It will be easy to prevent legal disputes if awareness of legal rights and laws is created among the general public. The large number of youth to be roped in as para-legal service providers will help achieve this objective”, he added. The training aims at identifying committed individuals as para-legal volunteers at district and taluk levels and equip them with knowledge and skills to act as intermediates between the people and legal service institutions at Central, State, district and taluk-levels. Union Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily said the objective of the judicial system was to render justice to everyone, even the one last in the row. At the same time, the Union Minister said that protracted litigations were hiccups in the system.
“When I was Chief Minister of Karnataka, I found that several litigations over land acquisition blocked the implementation of Hassan irrigation project, an 18-year dream of ryots in that region. Subsequently, all litigations were cleared within a short period and the project was completed successfully to provide irrigation for 20 lakh acres since I felt justice denied to water is justice denied to everyone”, he added. The blueprint for the National Legal Mission has been prepared, Mr. Moily said, and the Ministry was engaged in evolving the second generation legal education system. “Hitherto, a lower-level judicial officer was able to reach up to the district or State-level judicial position only. Efforts are being made to change the legal education system so as to help legal officers entering at the lower-level of the system reach higher positions,” he said. Outlining the programme, the Chairman, National Consultation for Para Legal Training and Legal Aid Activities and Supreme Court Judge, P. Sathasivam said 400 out of 6400 blocks in the country would be covered under the programme initially. About 1000 members from NSS, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sankatan etc. would be trained at RGNIYD in association with Indira Gandhi National Open University, which is offering diploma course in para-legal services.
Chief Justice of Madras High Court H. L. Gokhale, Madras High Court judge E. Dharma Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the IGNOU V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice-president, RGNIYD, C.R.Kesavan, director, RGNIYD, P.Michael Vetha Siromony and others participated in the function. Later speaking to reporters, the Union Law Minister said the impasse relating to the new posting for former Karnataka Chief Justice P. D. Dinakaran would have to be dealt with by the judiciary. When asked whether the introduction of para-legal services in Indian legal system could be construed as a preliminary step to open up the Indian legal education system to foreign universities, Mr. Moily replied in the negative and said that it was an effort to raise the legal education system to international standards.