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Judiciary should be more sensitive towards poor: PM
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the judicial system needed to be more sensitive and humane towards the poor in the face of rising litigation cost so that doors of justice were not closed for them and assured his government's full support to the judiciary to achieve this objective.

The Prime Minister speaking after inaugurating the All India Interdepartmental Cooperation Dialogue and Meeting on Social Justice, organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), expressed concern over the lack of sensitivity and probity in "some sections of judiciary".

"Our justice delivery system has to be more sensitive to the needs of the poorest of our people… sensitising each of the institutions of our democracy to the needs and concerns of the under-privileged is one of our top priorities," he told the conference, attended by Chief Justice of India Y. K. Sabharwal, who is the ex-officio head of NALSA and Law Minister H. R. Bharadwaj.

Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, the senior-most judge of Supreme Court and also the Chairman of Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, several other judges of the apex court and Delhi High Court, senior advocates and other members of bar also attended the function.

The Prime Minister said with the changing needs of the society, "We need to make the judicial machinery more efficient and effective and it is the responsibility of each of the three pillars of country's democratic set up."

While assuring full support of his government to achieve this objective, Dr Singh said the democracy had no meaning if basic human rights of the people were not protected and "our citizens have no opportunities of education, employment and lead a life of dignity and self-respect."

He said the justice should not only be seen to be done but delivered in time and emphasised the need to improve the working of lower courts which have to deal with a variety of cases. "They are at the cutting edge of our system of governance," the Prime Minister said.

Justice Sabharwal said to make the justice delivery system more effective and sensitive to the needs of the common man, the three wings of the government — the executive, legislature and judiciary — needed to work in close coordination.

There was need to change certain laws to make justice delivery system cheaper and easily accessible to the common man and right free legal aid easily available to the poor, which was the motto of NALSA, he said.

Justice Balakrishnan said that existence of a free judicial system was not the only essence of the success of democracy as the justice delivery system need to be equally effective and ensure that it protected the fundamental rights of the citizens.

"Accessibility of justice depends on how compatible our laws are," he said adding the courts should not only be physically but economically accessible to people.

He also reminded the government about the plight of farmers, committing suicide when caught in debt trap. The poor farmers were not getting any legal aid from any quarter, Justice Balakrishnan said.

Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj was not happy with the out put of NALSA in providing legal aid to the poor and needy, saying since its inception in 1986, it had not been able to show desired result and "spectacular success."

He also expressed concern over the huge pendency of cases with the courts and said that the government was making every effort to fill the vacancies of judges to tone up the existing judicial structure.




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