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India needs urgent judicial reforms: Pranab Mukherjee

India needs urgent judicial reforms: Pranab Mukherjee

Guwahati: Emphasising the need for easy accessibility of justice to the vulnerable sections of society, President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday said there is an urgent need to reform the country’s judicial system.

“In order to provide speedy and quality justice accessible to the ordinary citizens, there is urgent need to reform our judicial system,” Mukherjee said here. He was in the city to deliver a lecture at a seminar organised by the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, MIzoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

“An effective justice delivery system requires that justice should not only be delivered on time, but should also be easily accessible to people, particularly people from vulnerable sections of society,” Mukherjee said.

The approach to reform must be guided by a thorough understanding of current shortcomings and future needs of the system, he added.

“The process of reform must begin with an assessment of the country’s needs that the legal profession seeks to fulfill, namely the requirements across various levels of the judiciary, gaps in the criminal justice system, specific areas within the law which will require an increased number of practitioners in the near future etc,” the President said.

As part of judicial reforms, the lawyer community, which has often been ignored, should also be considered, he added.

“Legal education and continuing professional development must create a socially sensitive lawyer of conscience, for whom justice delayed is not an opportunity but a blemish on one’s professional persona and a failure of the system of which one is an integral part.”

“The ideal Indian lawyer must not only have excellent legal skills, but also embody social responsibility and strong professional ethics. The efficacy of the rule of law depends to a large extent on the integrity of lawyers who are the link between the citizen and the system of justice,” he said.

Mukherjee said the first generation of judicial reforms in the country established the National Law Schools and have demonstrated that India can have institutions that impart affordable but also world-class legal education.

“The second generation of reforms should now focus on continuing legal education of lawyers, judges, judicial officers, bureaucrats and academics,” he said.

There is need for seminars, conferences and lectures to be organised in a systematic manner, first making continuing legal education accessible for all and then making it mandatory as is the practice in many countries of the world, he added.

“Establishing a comprehensive system of Continuing Legal Education will enhance professionalism, accountability and public respect for lawyers,” Mukherjee said.

It is also imperative that continuing legal education centres such as judicial academies be set up for enabling Judges to keep abreast with emerging areas of law such as cyber laws and intellectual property, he added.

“It would be also useful in this regard for the Bar Council of India to consider setting up a world class institution for Continuing Legal Education similar to the National Law Schools,” Mukherjee suggested.

Further, the President said due to globalisation and opening up of various sectors for foreign direct and indirect investments, new challenges in legal field were emerging.

“India has ratified, signed or adopted various international instruments and has made variety of commitments in different international agreements, treaties and conventions. Cases relating to our obligations and commitments made in these agreements…are also reaching the courts of law in international as well as domestic arbitral tribunals,” Mukherjee said.

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