Make justice affordable for poor: President

Apra Vaidya

Nagpur, Feb 6 (PTI) President Pratibha Patil today askedlawyers to avoid adjournments to prevent delay in finalisationof matters and suggested that they should contribute towardsfree legal aid to allow the poor to have access to justice.

"When a person approaches the court with a grievance, itis in the expectation that the matter will be dealt within areasonable period of time...As a lawyer, you should avoidadjournments as much as possible, as these add to delays infinalisation of matters," she said.

Patil was addressing the platinum jubilee celebrations ofthe High Court Bar Association (HCBA) here.

She also asked the lawyers to avoid litigation to resolvedisputes and rather resort to mediation to settle issues.

"This will enhance reputation of the lawyer as apeacemaker," she said.

Patil''s comments came against the backdrop of a surveyconducted by Centre for Policy Research, an independentorganisation, which said 53,000 cases are pending with theSupreme Court, 40 lakh with High Courts and 2.7 crore withlower courts as of July 2009.

"On account of court fees and high fees of lawyers, legalservices are unaffordable for many...To take care of thatArticle 39A of the Constitution calls for free legal aid tothose who cannot access justice due to economic or otherdisabilities," she said, asking lawyers to contribute in thefree legal aid cell.

"They (lawyers) should use their knowledge to contributeto society by taking up socially important matters and issuesof weaker sections," she said.

Referring to new challenges that are emerging, Patilsaid legal systems have to cope with the impact of 21stcentury technologies in the fields of Information Technology,bio-technology, medicine and intellectual property.

Patil said markets are growing very fast and gettingintegrated. There are new national and international laws inthe field of commerce and trade, finance and investment, aswell as in a variety of new types of services.

She also favoured setting up of a National Law School inNagpur as demanded by HCBA.

The President recalled her days as a lawyer and said theexperience has helped her in public life.

Maharashtra Governor K Shankarnarayanan, Chief MinisterPrithviraj Chavan, Supreme Court judges Dalveer Bhandari andVikas Sirpurkar and Chief Justice of Bombay High Court JusticeMohit Shah were present on the occasion.

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