Chandigarh: High cost of litigation is not only keeping away poor from getting justice but even making it unaffordable for upper middle class, Union Minister Manish Tewari said, advocating that the justice delivery system in the country be made more affordable.
"We are in a very strange conundrum whereby the cost of litigation in this country has become increasingly high and it is not only excluding the poor or the disempowered or the marginalised, it is excluding very large swathes of upper middle class or the salaried people," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said here.
The Ludhiana MP was addressing the newly-enrolled advocates at a function organised by the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council here last night.
"I often joke to myself that the salary I draw as a minister, God forbid that if I have to go to court or something, I may not be able to afford (referring to his senior lawyer friend Anmol Rattan Sidhu who was present) Mr Sidhu`s daily fees," he said.
Pointing that the high cost of litigation is a "great challenge" before the judiciary system, he said, "If a person who feels that he is aggrieved and believes he has a chance to have his day in court does not decide to exercise that option merely because he is not able to afford it, I think that is an extremely sad day not only for democracy, but also for legal the profession collectively."
Tewari, a prominent lawyer himself, touched upon a range of other issues involving the legal profession.
He said it is the responsibility of the legal community to see that the constitutional values are not only preserved and protected, but are properly defended.
"There are a large number of people who try and access the justice system, but unfortunately find that somewhere along the way the system is choked and their quest for justice then becomes an endless wait, which to some extent, not only undermines their faith in the rule of law, but also takes away from this great democratic experiment, which India is," he said.
He said that legal professionals, especially the younger entrants, need to apply themselves to the question as to how they could facilitate the access to justice.
"And I am talking not only in terms of backlogs in courts, which is an issue and has been dwelled upon by distinguished legal minds. But more importantly, the question of how somebody who is disempowered, who is marginalised, who is poor can access justice system, is something which I believe requires the concerted attention of younger generation of lawyers of our country," he added.