Friday, December 1, 2023

Everyone deserves quality legal aid, including the unrepresented: Justice UU Lalit

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Supreme Court Judge, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit on Saturday advocated for providing quality legal aid services to all, especially those, who remain unrepresented, due to lack of awareness and other such reasons.

Addressing the one-day state level conference titled ‘Early access to justice at pre-arrest, arrest and remand stage’ at Uttan in Maharashtra, Justice Lalit, who is also the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), urged for early access to justice and quality legal aid to the arrested persons.

He said, “At every possible stage, the man must have the advantage or the benefit of qualified legal assistance and the Legal services authorities are meant to facilitate the said mechanism.

“Good talented legal professionals should be inducted in legal aid services, through which quality legal services may be provided to the needy. The Judicial Officers need to be sensitised in order protect the rights of the suspect,” he added.

As per Justice Lalit, “There are three kinds of players in the entire mechanics- Police Machinery, Judicature or the Judicial Organ of the state, and Legal Counsel. We have to think in terms of what the merits of a particular case demand.

“If the merit demands the man must be arrested, police must be facilitated by giving custody of that man, then that judicial temperament in our mind will always say that the man deserves to be put behind bars for some time, so that the societal interest gets sub served.

“So on one side, as a judicially trained official, we have to take care of the societal interest. Then what do you mean by making available or giving him access to Justice?

“It means that under Article 22, he must be afforded the best possible choice as a legal sort of counsel. Free legal aid must mean quality service. Good quality assistance should be assured to everyone, rather than the person, in order to support the litigation, selling ornaments of his house,” he added.

Chief Justice of Bombay High Court and Patron-in-Chief of MSLSA, Justice Dipankar Datta said the Para Legal Voluntaries should be trained and their
services be used to assist lawyers and hold interaction with litigants.

By encouraging wholesome cooperation from all sources, the legal services
authorities may act as pacesetters in creating responsive atmosphere for
access to justice for one and all, he added.

Bombay High Court Judge and Executive Chairman of Maharashtra SLSA, Justice A.A. Sayed said to provide early access to justice at pre-arrest and arrest stages, a better coordination amongst the legal service providers and police is required.

The one-day conference was organised at Maharashtra Judicial Academy (MJA), Uttan under the aegis of NALSA, Maharashtra; State Legal Services Authority and the State Legal Services Authority, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, in co-ordination with MJA, Uttan.

The event was attended by, among others, Justice S.S. Shinde, Judge, Bombay High Court and Executive Chairman of SLSA, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu; Justice R.D. Dhanuka, Judge, Bombay High Court and Officiating Director of MJA, Uttan; Justice A.S. Gadkari, Judge, Bombay High Court; and Justice Sarang V Kotwal, Judge Bombay High Court.

Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, Advocate General of Maharashtra, besides members of NALSA, lawyers, police officers, NGOs and other distinguished persons graced the event.

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