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Right to Legal Aid is essentially one of the most fundamental and important of all the rights that have been engraved under the Constitution of India. It is perhaps one right which plays an important role in protecting the others. Any right or a privilege will be rendered meaningless if the poverty stricken and the educationally backward groups are unable to have them enforced.
With the spirit of emphasizing the same need, The Centre for Advanced Studies in Criminal Law (CASCL), Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab in association with Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh organized a National Seminar on the Theme, “Access to Justice: Right to Legal Aid and Legal Services in India.”
The inaugural session, which was presided by the Hon’ble Justice S.S. Saron, Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court and Justice T.P.S. Mann, Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court, highlighted the need for translating laws into simple, easy and local languages to create awareness about Legal Services among the weaker sections of the society, in which Mr. Justice S.S. Saron has played a crucial role.
Prof. (Dr.) Paramjit S. Jaswal, in his welcome address, also apprised the delegates of the various Legal Aid Camps organized by the students and the faculty of RGNUL.
While, Justice T.P.S. Mann, in his keynote address, discussed the role of Legal Aid in providing justice to farmers in crisis, to orphans and to old aged people and also talked about the evolution of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 and expressed his views that “Legal Services Committees have been constituted to give free access to justice to the marginalized”, Justice S.S. Saron emphasized on the importance of providing legal services to the accused and putting more focus on the role of NALSA, which has expanded the ambit of legal services.
Justice Saron also remarked that the initiative of NALSA eased the pendency in Indian Judiciary and created ways for amicable, speedy and less procedural disposal of cases and encouraged the students to participate in various legal activities to contribute to the society. He stated that the “Legal Services Authority enters into unchartered terrains by pro-actively reaching every strata of society.”
Among the immense number of selected submissions making to be 100 and counting, the presenters successfully explored into the various issues that were pertaining in the different areas that were covered by the following sub themes: Legal Literacy, Legal Services to Victims of Drug Abuse, Legal Representation and Legal Aid for Undertrials, Legal Services to Women and Juvenile Offenders, Effective Utilization of Technology to advance Legal Aid Services.
Web Conference was also organized to facilitate the paper presenters. Along with these informative sessions, a book of selected research papers titled Right to Legal Aid and Legal Services in India was also released, earlier in the ceremony.
The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Prof. (Dr.) G.I.S. Sandhu, Registrar RGNUL, observed that the deliberations in the technical sessions would enable the seminarians to find answers to the issues and challenges associated with Legal Service Aid.