New Delhi, Nov 10 : Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Tuesday said over the course of 26 years, legal services authorities have broken the traditional notions of legal aid and expanded meaning to access to justice.
In his address at the Legal Services Day celebrations, organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) at Sharda University, Noida, he said: “Earlier, the idea of legal aid was confined to court rooms. Notions of access to justice were understood from traditional viewpoints. But, over the course of 26 years, the legal services authorities have broken the traditional notions of legal aid and have given an expanded meaning to access to justice.”
He also commended law students across the country for their role in the legal aid movement, while expressing his strong belief that it would prepare them to be future torch-bearers of the legal aid movement.
Chief Justice Ramana said: “Your decision to join the legal aid movement will pave the path for a great career. This will help you inculcate empathy, understanding and a sense of selflessness. Remember, unlike other professions, the legal profession is not about profit maximisation, but about service to the society.”
He said this day marks the beginning of our journey towards achieving the constitutional goal of access to justice.
“On this day in 1995, the Legal Services Authorities Act came into force and paved the way for the entire framework of Legal Services Authorities. I am glad to see such a grand celebration of Legal Services Day,” he added.
The CJI also said: “I must remind you all that while the concept of legal aid was institutionalised in 1995, the actual legal aid movement started much before our Independence and during our freedom struggle. Several legal stalwarts used to offer their pro-bono legal services to our freedom fighters and fought against the might of colonial powers.”
He added that the growth of this legal aid movement is reflected in the Constitution, wherein the expression ‘Justice: Social, Economic and Political’ finds special place in the Preamble.
The Chief Justice said: “Today, the role of legal services authorities is not constrained merely to the provision of court-based legal representation. They also work towards legal awareness, legal literacy, social action litigation, settlement of disputes through Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, among others.”
The function was also attended by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Supreme Court judge Justice U.U. Lalit, Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court Rajesh Bindal and other judges.