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President Pratibha Patil Saturday called for affordable and accessible justice for India’s poor and said a large number of pending cases at various levels of the judiciary was a matter of serious concern.
“Litigation is not an inexpensive option. For the poor and disadvantaged sections of society, approaching courts without legal aid is not possible. We must look at how to make justice more affordable whether it is in terms of court fees or lawyer’s fees,” the president said while inaugurating a conference here on ‘Access to Justice and Socio-Economic Development Programmes in the North Eastern Region’.

“Lack of opportunities for equitable access to justice can create a division in society of those who have and those who do not have access to justice,” the president said.

She also expressed concern over the large number of pending cases in various courts.

“The large number of cases pending at various levels of our judiciary in our country is an issue of concern. This has a cascading effect on people’s expectations and impacts on their perception of the judiciary,” the president said.

“Timely dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of justice.”

The president also called upon jurists to look into the flaws of the legal system, saying it should not only meet the requirements of individual justice but fulfill the broader role of being an instrument of legal empowerment for the society and the nation.

“Efforts should be made to use the potential of information and communication technology to improve the efficiency of the courts. Such steps will make judicial processes more transparent and predictable,” she said.

The president also called upon the legal fraternity to take a more holistic look at the role of the judiciary in the future.

“What will be the role of the judiciary in the 21st Century? How can the dispute resolution systems be made more effective? How Lok Adalats, Family Centres, and Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism as also tribunals can be more useful?” the president asked.

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