Senior advocates must provide pro bono services to weaker sections of society: President Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind. (Photo/ANI)
President Ram Nath Kovind. (Photo/ANI)

New Delhi [India], October 2 (ANI): President Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday that the senior advocates in the Supreme Court and the High Courts across the country must follow Mahatma Gandhi's ideas and provide pro bono services to the people belonging to the weaker sections of society.

Kovind was addressing the audience during the launch of the "Pan India Legal Awareness & Outreach Campaign" by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) as a part of Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav, which celebrates the 75 years of Independence of the country.

"Senior advocates in the Supreme Court and High Courts should follow the ideas of Gandhiji and take some time out for providing pro bono services to the weaker sections of society. He did a lot of pro-bono work for the poor. Indentured labourers in South Africa looked up to him for taking their grievances to the authorities and courts. He took up their cause without charging any money. As a lawyer, he preferred out of settlements over litigations. When he saw rich lawyers getting rich at the cost of poor litigants, he felt that the best legal talent must be made available to the poorest at the most reasonable rates," Kovind said.

He said that as a country, India should move on from the idea of women's development to the idea of women-led development.

"Increasing the number of women in National Legal Services Institutions is as important as reaching out to the largest possible number of women beneficiaries," he added.

The President also observed that there are about 11,000 women lawyers among over 47,000-panel advocates at the district level and about 17,000 women Para-Legal Volunteers out of the total number of nearly 44,000.

"I have been told that NALSA is making efforts to be more inclusive in the engagement of advocates and para-legal volunteers," President Kovind said.

He commended NALSA for its vision to promote an inclusive legal system to ensure fair and meaningful justice to marginalized and disadvantaged sections.

"I am glad that NALSA is working towards our Constitutional objective of providing equal and barrier-free access to justice," he said.

Observing that a lot of lawyers were a part of the Indian freedom movement, he said, "These lawyers envisioned a society based on Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Since our Independence, we have made a lot of progress in realising these constitutional values, but still, a lot of work needs to be done to reach the destination which our founding fathers wanted this country to reach."

He further added 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 the curriculum for law students. I am sure that this generation of young law students will contribute to the making of an India which will be a role model for the global community in terms of socio-economic development parameters. Their generation will build and see the India of 2047 when the country will be celebrating 100 years of its independence. I am sure that India led by them will showcase a society where prosperity and happiness will be complemented by justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, " he said.

Kovind advised the legal service providers to have a dutiful mindset towards providing services to people.

Highlighting India's ancient culture's approach to justice, he said, "Our tradition highlights equal access to justice. Disputes were resolved amicably. Alternative dispute-settling mechanisms like mediations, conciliations and Lok Adalats remind us of our ancient values of peace and justice."

He commended the work done by Lok Adalats during the last two years.

"During the last two years, 1 crore, 11 lakh pending cases were disposed of by the Lok Adalats. This eases the burden of our judicial system. I congratulate Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justice UU Lalit for infusing new energy into Lok Adalats, which has helped in ensuring speedy justice," he said. (ANI)

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