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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 02.10.2021

Senior advocates in Supreme Court and High Courts should earmark a certain part of their time to provide pro bono services to people from the weaker sections, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind. He was speaking on the occasion of launch of Pan India Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign of the National Legal Services Authority, at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi today (October 2, 2021).

Complimenting NALSA for launching this awareness drive on Gandhi Jayanti, the President said that Mahatma Gandhi is a symbol of service to humanity, including services to help the downtrodden get justice. More than 125 years ago, Gandhiji had set certain examples which are relevant to the entire legal fraternity even today. He quoted Gandhiji and said "The best legal talent must be available to the poorest at reasonable rates”. The President added that this advice of Bapu should be followed by the legal fraternity, especially designated senior advocates in Supreme Court and High Courts. Such advocates should earmark a certain part of their time to provide pro bono services to people from the weaker sections.

The President commended NALSA for its vision to promote an inclusive legal system to ensure fair and meaningful justice to marginalized and disadvantaged sections. He was happy to note that NALSA is working towards our Constitutional objective of providing equal and barrier-free access to justice.

The President said that Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms such as mediations, conciliations and Lok Adalats remind us of our ancient values of peace and justice. In modern India too, since our independence, we began moving forward from an era of judicial aristocracy to the direction of judicial democracy. NALSA has been playing an important role in this journey since its system became operational 25 years ago.He noted that during the previous two years, more than 1,11,00000 pending and pre litigation cases have been disposed off by Lok Adalats.He said that such disposal by Lok Adalats reduces the burden on the judicial system. He congratulated Chief Justice of India Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice U.U. Lalit for infusing new energy in the system of Lok Adalat and thereby helping dispense speedy justice for our citizens.

The President said that the structure of legal services institutions provides support to our judicial architecture and strengthens it at the national, state, district, and sub-division levels. This support and strength are critical for serving the large number of vulnerable people. He urged Legal Services Authorities to make special efforts to disseminate awareness regarding the rights and entitlements of citizens, particularly among those who are socially and economically backward. He said that the lack of awareness hampers implementation of welfare policies formulated by the State, as the actual beneficiaries remain unaware of their entitlements.

Noting that students from law colleges attending this program, the President said that on the young shoulders of such students rests the responsibility of shaping the India of the future. Law colleges should adopt villages for providing legal services. Project reports concerning legal services for the poor and rural population should be part of curriculum for law students. He expressed confidence that this generation of young law students would contribute to the making of an India which would be a role model for the global community in terms of socio-economic development parameters.

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