বিশ্বজুড়ে ছড়িয়ে থাকা বাঙালির নিজস্ব মঞ্চ

A Speech on Legal Aid by Honourable High Court Judge Mr. Justice I.P. Mukherjee on 3rd International Bengali Conference organized by Bangla Worldwide

25 March, 2024 03:15:00 AM

First of all, I will say that I am humbled and much privileged to have been invited by you, to be part of you to participate here and to share my views with you. It is a great achievement for me and I repeat, a great honour and it brings me a lot of happiness.

We are all aware that a person is born with legal rights. A person grows up with more acquired legal rights. But where there is infringement of that legal right, that has to be enforced. Now, that right can be enforced without recourse to a court of law. It can be enforced or realized by negotiation or by persuasion, by appeal, by mediation, etc. But sometimes that legal right is denied. It is denied by fellow citizens. It is even denied by the authority, that is the government or any other statutory organization. A Right which is capable of being enforced and is denied has to receive some kind of an aid to realize it. People with ability, people who are well-stationed in life, people with financial resources, socially well placed would be able to aid themselves to realize these legal rights. But those who need it are the weak, the downtrodden, or are so placed in their gender that it becomes difficult for them to realize their rights. Also, people who are financially weak or whose financial resources do not permit them to avail of enough legal remedies.

Now, if you ask me, I can tell you that within the society itself, there was some sort of a system, there was some kind of thinking, leading to the creation of institutions, which indirectly provided legal aid to these downtrodden over the years. Now, if we think of Trusts in our country, the Hindu religious and charitable trusts, the Mohammedan endowments, there is some provision and on every such trust act adequate provisions to help the children, the women, the destitute and the poor. Now, the end result of legal aid would be benefit to these sections of society, which, perhaps without recourse to the court of law, these charitable institutions tried to bestow upon them.
But if you think internationally, the first ideas about providing legal aid to the weak originated are only in 1851 in France, as far as my research goes, when the French government was thinking of some kind of legal aid to the poor, the destitute, the weak, the women and the children. In Britain in 1944, Viscount Simon who was Lord Chancellor created a committee to explore how legal advice would be rendered to those who required it.

In our country also through societies and private societies, some kind of a legal aid service was provided to the people. I remember, even in our high court in early 50s, there was a Legal Aid Society which was amongst others founded by my grandfather, along with other legal luminaries. It still exists and has an office in the city civil court building. It is a private society, which renders legal aid to the poor, the destitute and the downtrodden.

Officially for the first time, in 1949, the government founded the Bombay committee on legal aid and advice where rendering of legal aid was considered as Rajdharma, the duty of the government, towards the poor. In 1950, it was followed by the Bengal Committee, which also had similar goals. Between 1952 and 1956, the central government asked the state governments to legislate to provide legal aid services to those who needed it.

There was the 14th Law Commission, which was headed by M. C. Setalwad. He published a report but nothing much happened as a consequence. In 1959, there was an international commission, where the persons who required Legal Aid were described as ‘limited persons’ comprising of women, children and poor, who were to be beneficiaries of legal service to be provided by the government.
Then again, there was some passage of time and in 1973, the Justice Krishna Iyer committee was constituted to go into this question.
Eventually in 1976, the Directive Principles of state policy, which is part of our Constitution, was amended by the insertion of Article 39A where providing legal aid or legal service to those entitled it was seen as part of the solemn duty of the sovereign towards all persons who were residents in India.

If you look at Article 22 of the Constitution and 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it does provide for legal aid and/ or legal service to be provided to the accused, free of cost by the government to defend them in the criminal case against them. After the 1976 amendment of the Constitution, Justice P. N. Bhagwati of the Supreme Court took upon himself the task of drafting a legislation for that for this purpose.

Eventually, this legislation came through and was enacted as the Legal Services Authority act 1987 which is still in force. I am chairperson of the state Legal Services Authority created by that act. The State Legal Services Authority act 1987 creates three institutions. One is the central authority. Another is the state authority, and then the district level Legal Services Authority. In addition to that, there is a Supreme court Legal Services Committee, a High court Legal Services Committee and various agencies and many institutions for the purpose of implementation of the aims and objects of the Act.

Now, there are many purposes of the Act, the foremost of which is to make the people aware of their legal rights. Secondly rendering legal aid to the persons entitled. The persons who are entitled to legal aid are described in Section 12 of the Act as persons belonging to the schedule caste and tribe, women and child, physically, mentally or otherwise disabled and so on. Legal service is rendered free of charge in respect of litigations in any court, below Supreme Court, to persons with an annual income below Rs.15,000 and in respect of litigation, in the Supreme Court, to persons having income of less than Rs.50,000. Now, this legal service, or aid is for these purposes, to obtain legal advice, to draft pleadings, for filing in court for preparation of paper books in appeal to obtain certified copies of the orders and also to obtain legal advice from legal practitioners.

A very useful purpose which is being served by all these institutions is to hold Lok Adalats all over the country. There was one Lok Adalat which was held yesterday. They are held on specified days of the year, where respective disputes, which have a chance of settlement as certified by the court or on the application by the parties, are referred to a committee of judges. The settlement, if arrived at, is treated as an award and that award can be enforced in a court of law, like a decree or order.

Now this is a great achievement in lowering the pendency of cases in the country and minimizing the cost of litigation. If the matter is amicably settled before a Lok Adalat, the court fee paid is returned to the parties.

If settlement between the parties fails in the Lok Adalat, the matter is again returned to the court to be tried according to law.
In my opinion, Legal Aid has to have more reach and penetration amongst the people of our country who really need it. And for that, a lot has to be done not only by the government, but by societies and organisations which my sister Chameli Majumdar is organising or taking part in for the purpose of fulfilling the duty which each and every government has and must have towards its people of providing legal service and aid to those who need it to realise their legal rights. Thereby the fundamental rights which are provided to us by our constitution, that is the right of equality under Article 14 the right to life and livelihood under Article 21 and other fundamental and constitution rights can be adequately realized by all sections of the society in a similar way so as to promote the ultimate goal, which the Constitution contemplates of having a vibrant nation.

I thank all of you for giving me a very patient hearing. Jai Hind.

(Transcribed by Anindita Sen Choudhury) 

03:15:00 AM {"id":1669,"user_id":3,"title":"A Speech on Legal Aid by Honourable High Court Judge Mr. Justice I.P. Mukherjee on 3rd International Bengali Conference organized by Bangla Worldwide","slug":"speech-legal-aid-honourable-high-court-judge-mr-justice-ip-mukherjee-3rd-international-bengali-conference-organized-bangla-worldwide","excerpt":"","content":"<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">First of all, I will say that I am humbled and much privileged to have been invited by you, to be part of you to participate here and to share my views with you. It is a great achievement for me and I repeat, a great honour and it brings me a lot of happiness.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-1-0-0-0-0-1713427733.jpeg\" \/><\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">We are all aware that a person is born with legal rights. A person grows up with more acquired legal rights. But where there is infringement of that legal right, that has to be enforced. Now, that right can be enforced without recourse to a court of law. It can be enforced or realized by negotiation or by persuasion, by appeal, by mediation, etc. But sometimes that legal right is denied. It is denied by fellow citizens. It is even denied by the authority, that is the government or any other statutory organization. A Right which is capable of being enforced and is denied has to receive some kind of an aid to realize it. People with ability, people who are well-stationed in life, people with financial resources, socially well placed would be able to aid themselves to realize these legal rights. But those who need it are the weak, the downtrodden, or are so placed in their gender that it becomes difficult for them to realize their rights. Also, people who are financially weak or whose financial resources do not permit them to avail of enough legal remedies.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now, if you ask me, I can tell you that within the society itself, there was some sort of a system, there was some kind of thinking, leading to the creation of institutions, which indirectly provided legal aid to these downtrodden over the years. Now, if we think of Trusts in our country, the Hindu religious and charitable trusts, the Mohammedan endowments, there is some provision and on every such trust act adequate provisions to help the children, the women, the destitute and the poor. Now, the end result of legal aid would be benefit to these sections of society, which, perhaps without recourse to the court of law, these charitable institutions tried to bestow upon them. <br \/>But if you think internationally, the first ideas about providing legal aid to the weak originated are only in 1851 in France, as far as my research goes, when the French government was thinking of some kind of legal aid to the poor, the destitute, the weak, the women and the children. In Britain in 1944, Viscount Simon who was Lord Chancellor created a committee to explore how legal advice would be rendered to those who required it.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">In our country also through societies and private societies, some kind of a legal aid service was provided to the people. I remember, even in our high court in early 50s, there was a Legal Aid Society which was amongst others founded by my grandfather, along with other legal luminaries. It still exists and has an office in the city civil court building. It is a private society, which renders legal aid to the poor, the destitute and the downtrodden.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Officially for the first time, in 1949, the government founded the Bombay committee on legal aid and advice where rendering of legal aid was considered as Rajdharma, the duty of the government, towards the poor. In 1950, it was followed by the Bengal Committee, which also had similar goals. Between 1952 and 1956, the central government asked the state governments to legislate to provide legal aid services to those who needed it.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-2-0-0-0-0-1713427933.jpeg\" \/><\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There was the 14th Law Commission, which was headed by M. C. Setalwad. He published a report but nothing much happened as a consequence. In 1959, there was an international commission, where the persons who required Legal Aid were described as &lsquo;limited persons&rsquo; comprising of women, children and poor, who were to be beneficiaries of legal service to be provided by the government. <br \/>Then again, there was some passage of time and in 1973, the Justice Krishna Iyer committee was constituted to go into this question. <br \/>Eventually in 1976, the Directive Principles of state policy, which is part of our Constitution, was amended by the insertion of Article 39A where providing legal aid or legal service to those entitled it was seen as part of the solemn duty of the sovereign towards all persons who were residents in India.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">If you look at Article 22 of the Constitution and 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it does provide for legal aid and\/ or legal service to be provided to the accused, free of cost by the government to defend them in the criminal case against them. After the 1976 amendment of the Constitution, Justice P. N. Bhagwati of the Supreme Court took upon himself the task of drafting a legislation for that for this purpose.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Eventually, this legislation came through and was enacted as the Legal Services Authority act 1987 which is still in force. I am chairperson of the state Legal Services Authority created by that act. The State Legal Services Authority act 1987 creates three institutions. One is the central authority. Another is the state authority, and then the district level Legal Services Authority. In addition to that, there is a Supreme court Legal Services Committee, a High court Legal Services Committee and various agencies and many institutions for the purpose of implementation of the aims and objects of the Act.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now, there are many purposes of the Act, the foremost of which is to make the people aware of their legal rights. Secondly rendering legal aid to the persons entitled. The persons who are entitled to legal aid are described in Section 12 of the Act as persons belonging to the schedule caste and tribe, women and child, physically, mentally or otherwise disabled and so on. Legal service is rendered free of charge in respect of litigations in any court, below Supreme Court, to persons with an annual income below Rs.15,000 and in respect of litigation, in the Supreme Court, to persons having income of less than Rs.50,000. Now, this legal service, or aid is for these purposes, to obtain legal advice, to draft pleadings, for filing in court for preparation of paper books in appeal to obtain certified copies of the orders and also to obtain legal advice from legal practitioners.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-3-copy-0-0-0-0-1713427977.jpeg\" \/><\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">A very useful purpose which is being served by all these institutions is to hold Lok Adalats all over the country. There was one Lok Adalat which was held yesterday. They are held on specified days of the year, where respective disputes, which have a chance of settlement as certified by the court or on the application by the parties, are referred to a committee of judges. The settlement, if arrived at, is treated as an award and that award can be enforced in a court of law, like a decree or order.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now this is a great achievement in lowering the pendency of cases in the country and minimizing the cost of litigation. If the matter is amicably settled before a Lok Adalat, the court fee paid is returned to the parties.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">If settlement between the parties fails in the Lok Adalat, the matter is again returned to the court to be tried according to law. <br \/>In my opinion, Legal Aid has to have more reach and penetration amongst the people of our country who really need it. And for that, a lot has to be done not only by the government, but by societies and organisations which my sister Chameli Majumdar is organising or taking part in for the purpose of fulfilling the duty which each and every government has and must have towards its people of providing legal service and aid to those who need it to realise their legal rights. Thereby the fundamental rights which are provided to us by our constitution, that is the right of equality under Article 14 the right to life and livelihood under Article 21 and other fundamental and constitution rights can be adequately realized by all sections of the society in a similar way so as to promote the ultimate goal, which the Constitution contemplates of having a vibrant nation.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">I thank all of you for giving me a very patient hearing. Jai Hind.<\/p>\r\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">(Transcribed by Anindita Sen Choudhury)&nbsp;<\/p>","content_html":"<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">First of all, I will say that I am humbled and much privileged to have been invited by you, to be part of you to participate here and to share my views with you. It is a great achievement for me and I repeat, a great honour and it brings me a lot of happiness.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-1-0-0-0-0-1713427733.jpeg\"><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">We are all aware that a person is born with legal rights. A person grows up with more acquired legal rights. But where there is infringement of that legal right, that has to be enforced. Now, that right can be enforced without recourse to a court of law. It can be enforced or realized by negotiation or by persuasion, by appeal, by mediation, etc. But sometimes that legal right is denied. It is denied by fellow citizens. It is even denied by the authority, that is the government or any other statutory organization. A Right which is capable of being enforced and is denied has to receive some kind of an aid to realize it. People with ability, people who are well-stationed in life, people with financial resources, socially well placed would be able to aid themselves to realize these legal rights. But those who need it are the weak, the downtrodden, or are so placed in their gender that it becomes difficult for them to realize their rights. Also, people who are financially weak or whose financial resources do not permit them to avail of enough legal remedies.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now, if you ask me, I can tell you that within the society itself, there was some sort of a system, there was some kind of thinking, leading to the creation of institutions, which indirectly provided legal aid to these downtrodden over the years. Now, if we think of Trusts in our country, the Hindu religious and charitable trusts, the Mohammedan endowments, there is some provision and on every such trust act adequate provisions to help the children, the women, the destitute and the poor. Now, the end result of legal aid would be benefit to these sections of society, which, perhaps without recourse to the court of law, these charitable institutions tried to bestow upon them. <br>But if you think internationally, the first ideas about providing legal aid to the weak originated are only in 1851 in France, as far as my research goes, when the French government was thinking of some kind of legal aid to the poor, the destitute, the weak, the women and the children. In Britain in 1944, Viscount Simon who was Lord Chancellor created a committee to explore how legal advice would be rendered to those who required it.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">In our country also through societies and private societies, some kind of a legal aid service was provided to the people. I remember, even in our high court in early 50s, there was a Legal Aid Society which was amongst others founded by my grandfather, along with other legal luminaries. It still exists and has an office in the city civil court building. It is a private society, which renders legal aid to the poor, the destitute and the downtrodden.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Officially for the first time, in 1949, the government founded the Bombay committee on legal aid and advice where rendering of legal aid was considered as Rajdharma, the duty of the government, towards the poor. In 1950, it was followed by the Bengal Committee, which also had similar goals. Between 1952 and 1956, the central government asked the state governments to legislate to provide legal aid services to those who needed it.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-2-0-0-0-0-1713427933.jpeg\"><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There was the 14th Law Commission, which was headed by M. C. Setalwad. He published a report but nothing much happened as a consequence. In 1959, there was an international commission, where the persons who required Legal Aid were described as \u2018limited persons\u2019 comprising of women, children and poor, who were to be beneficiaries of legal service to be provided by the government. <br>Then again, there was some passage of time and in 1973, the Justice Krishna Iyer committee was constituted to go into this question. <br>Eventually in 1976, the Directive Principles of state policy, which is part of our Constitution, was amended by the insertion of Article 39A where providing legal aid or legal service to those entitled it was seen as part of the solemn duty of the sovereign towards all persons who were residents in India.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">If you look at Article 22 of the Constitution and 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it does provide for legal aid and\/ or legal service to be provided to the accused, free of cost by the government to defend them in the criminal case against them. After the 1976 amendment of the Constitution, Justice P. N. Bhagwati of the Supreme Court took upon himself the task of drafting a legislation for that for this purpose.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Eventually, this legislation came through and was enacted as the Legal Services Authority act 1987 which is still in force. I am chairperson of the state Legal Services Authority created by that act. The State Legal Services Authority act 1987 creates three institutions. One is the central authority. Another is the state authority, and then the district level Legal Services Authority. In addition to that, there is a Supreme court Legal Services Committee, a High court Legal Services Committee and various agencies and many institutions for the purpose of implementation of the aims and objects of the Act.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now, there are many purposes of the Act, the foremost of which is to make the people aware of their legal rights. Secondly rendering legal aid to the persons entitled. The persons who are entitled to legal aid are described in Section 12 of the Act as persons belonging to the schedule caste and tribe, women and child, physically, mentally or otherwise disabled and so on. Legal service is rendered free of charge in respect of litigations in any court, below Supreme Court, to persons with an annual income below Rs.15,000 and in respect of litigation, in the Supreme Court, to persons having income of less than Rs.50,000. Now, this legal service, or aid is for these purposes, to obtain legal advice, to draft pleadings, for filing in court for preparation of paper books in appeal to obtain certified copies of the orders and also to obtain legal advice from legal practitioners.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-3-copy-0-0-0-0-1713427977.jpeg\"><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">A very useful purpose which is being served by all these institutions is to hold Lok Adalats all over the country. There was one Lok Adalat which was held yesterday. They are held on specified days of the year, where respective disputes, which have a chance of settlement as certified by the court or on the application by the parties, are referred to a committee of judges. The settlement, if arrived at, is treated as an award and that award can be enforced in a court of law, like a decree or order.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Now this is a great achievement in lowering the pendency of cases in the country and minimizing the cost of litigation. If the matter is amicably settled before a Lok Adalat, the court fee paid is returned to the parties.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">If settlement between the parties fails in the Lok Adalat, the matter is again returned to the court to be tried according to law. <br>In my opinion, Legal Aid has to have more reach and penetration amongst the people of our country who really need it. And for that, a lot has to be done not only by the government, but by societies and organisations which my sister Chameli Majumdar is organising or taking part in for the purpose of fulfilling the duty which each and every government has and must have towards its people of providing legal service and aid to those who need it to realise their legal rights. Thereby the fundamental rights which are provided to us by our constitution, that is the right of equality under Article 14 the right to life and livelihood under Article 21 and other fundamental and constitution rights can be adequately realized by all sections of the society in a similar way so as to promote the ultimate goal, which the Constitution contemplates of having a vibrant nation.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">I thank all of you for giving me a very patient hearing. Jai Hind.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">(Transcribed by Anindita Sen Choudhury)\u00a0<\/p>","published_at":"2024-03-25 03:15:00","published":1,"created_at":"2024-04-18 13:44:46","updated_at":"2024-04-18 13:44:46","metadata":null,"ginopane_blogtaxonomy_series_id":null,"seo_title":null,"seo_description":null,"seo_keywords":null,"canonical_url":null,"redirect_url":null,"robot_index":null,"robot_follow":null,"summary":"<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">First of all, I will say that I am humbled and much privileged to have been invited by you, to be part of you to participate here and to share my views with you. It is a great achievement for me and I repeat, a great honour and it brings me a lot of happiness.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: center;\"><img src=\"\/storage\/app\/media\/legal%20aids\/cropped-images\/whatsapp-image-2024-04-18-at-131043-1-0-0-0-0-1713427733.jpeg\"><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">We are all aware that a person is born with legal rights. A person grows up with more acquired legal rights. But where there is infringement of that legal right, that has to be enforced. Now, that right can be enforced without recourse to a court of law. 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