Sr advocates should provide pro bono service to weaker sections: President

(IANS): President Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday that senior advocates in the Supreme Court and the high courts should earmark a certain part of their time to provide pro bono services to the people from the weaker sections.

Speaking at the launch of the six-week ‘Pan-India Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign’ of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) at the Vigyan Bhavan on Saturday, Kovind complimented the NALSA for launching the awareness drive on Gandhi Jayanti.

He said that Mahatma Gandhi was 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 had said that the best legal talent must be available to the poorest at reasonable rates,” Kovind said.

Kovind also said that the advice of Gandhiji should be followed by the legal fraternity, especially the designated senior advocates in the Supreme Court and the high courts.

Lauding NALSA for its vision to promote an inclusive legal system to ensure fair and meaningful justice to marginalised and disadvantaged sections, he expressed his happiness that it has been working towards the constitutional objective of providing equal and barrier-free access to justice to the people.

The President further said that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation and Lok Adalats remind us of our ancient values of peace and justice.

“In modern India too, since 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,” the President said.

Kovind also said that the structure of legal institutions provides support to the judicial architecture and strengthens it at the national, state, district and sub-division levels, and this support and strength are critical for serving the large number of vulnerable people.

Urging the 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 further said that the lack of awareness hampers the implementation of the welfare policies formulated by the state, as the actual beneficiaries remain unaware of their entitlements.

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