New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expanded his government's 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' motto to include 'Sabka Nyay', assuring free legal aid for the vulnerable sections of the society.
"I believe in 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and with that there must be 'Sabka Nyay'," Modi said urging that the spread of legal awareness should be merged with awareness about judicial institutions.
"Along with legal awareness, there must be institutional awareness. People must know systems that are in place."
Addressing the legal fraternity on Legal Services Day, Prime Minister Modi said that people were unaware of services rendered by the judiciary and legal in promoting legal literacy and securing the rights of the most disadvantaged sections of the society.
He admitted that he himself was not aware of this dimension of judiciary until now.
Appreciating the more than 8.5 crores cases settled by the Lok Adalats since National Legal Services Authority was constituted on December 5, 1995, Modi said that they should be part of research project for the students in the national law universities so that they understand their functioning during the course of their education.
He said that students should do research on Lok Adalats in different areas and submit their project reports with suggestions.
Pointing out that no institution can remain in a situation of status quo, Modi said that everything must change as status quoist situation was fraught with stagnation.
He gave the instance of the successful implementation 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yogna' where 40 percent people were brought within the fold of country's banking system by opening their accounts with zero balance.
Recalling the contribution of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in spreading legal awareness, Justice TSThakur, who is going to succeed Chief Justice HL Dattu as Chief Justice of India on December 3, said: "No system, no society, no polity can survive if you don't ensure justice to poor. It (justice to poor) is upholding the constitutional mandate."
The settlement of cases through Lok Adalats was not just a win-win situation for parties to the dispute, Justice T.S.Thakur said it also reduced the burden of many cases as matters settled before Lok Adalats cannot be challenged.
He dwelt on the seven areas on which NALSA will now focus involving women and child trafficking, drug abuse, securing the rights of unorganised workers and mentally sick, effective implementation ofA poverty alleviation schemes and child friendly legal services.
Justice Anil R Dave - chairman, supreme court legal services committee (SCLSC) - pointed to the ever increasing burden of pending litigations on the courts saying that one of the reasons was less number of judges.
While in the US, there are 104 judges for every ten lakh population and 75 judges for ten lakh people in Canada, Justice Dave said that in India it was just 15 judges for that many people.
"That is one of the reasons for our arrears", Justice Dave said.
Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said that every lawyer's contribution to free legal aid must be counted before designating him as a senior lawyer and subsequently considering him for appointment as a judge.
Watch his speech here: