PM Manmohan Singh calls for legal system supporting development

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday said that developing countries need a legal system conducive to both rapid economic development and promoting equitable distribution of the fruits of development.

“The developing countries need a legal system which is conducive both to rapid economic development and which also has built-in mechanism to promote the equitable distribution of the fruits and gains of development,” he said while inaugurating the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference here.

Manmohan Singh said that the government is committed to the pursuit of inclusive economic growth.

“The welfare of the poor and the common man is the centerpiece of our policies,” he told the gathering of over 800 judges, lawyers and other legal practitioners from 54 countries of the Commonwealth.

The prime minister claimed that India’s economic growth remains firmly anchored in the Nehruvian vision of an egalitarian society.

“We have remained steadfast in our commitment to implement constitutional directives to ensure that our policies and laws uphold human dignity. While opening up our economy and freeing it from the shackles of bureaucratic controls over the years we have endeavoured to pursue distributive justice as mandative in our magnificent constitution,” he said.

Citing various articles of the constitution, the prime minister said inclusive growth was an unfinished project and the nation had a long way to go in this direction.

Manmohan Singh underlined the need for the legal order in the fast changing world to constantly adapt itself to change.

“That is the only way it can retain its relevance. In this context, the role of courts and judges in making law an instrument of social stability and progressive change cannot be over emphasised.”

He said the rule of law can no longer be divorced from global policy challenges.

“The challenges the world community faces as a whole demand a purposeful alignment of domestic policies and laws with the evolving international laws and norms. This is necessary to address the common challenges facing humanity. These include international terrorism, persistence of poverty, malnutrition amidst rapid growth, protection of human rights, problems of climate change and energy security,” said the prime minister.

“Irrevocable commitment to democracy based on rule of law remains the proudest achievement of Indian state since independence. Our understanding of the rule of law as the anchor of democratic and a just society is inextricably linked to the preservation of individual liberty and freedom of all our citizens.”

“We believe that the powers of state to be applied to the advancement of the basic human rights of all our citizens but at the same time it should be so constrained by rule of law as to advance civil and political rights of an individual and thus prevent oppressive governance,” he added.

Manmohan Singh said he was of the firm belief that the solution to mass poverty can be found only in the framework of a rapidly growing economy.

“It is my firm belief that meaningful and effective solutions to the problems of mass poverty that prevails in many developing countries can be found only in the framework of a rapidly expanding economy. Rapid economic growth is a prime necessity. It is necessary to create a macro economic environment that is conducive to the promotion of savings, investment, entrepreneurship, innovation and management of rapid technological changes,” the prime minister pointed out.

The theme of the conference – “Emerging economies and the rule of law: Challenges and opportunities” – was especially relevant “when a new global architecture is taking place and there is restlessness in the air in many developing countries,” he added.

He suggested that the Indian experience of ensuring unity of its people amidst diversity could be of use to many other countries that face the challenge of establishing a national identity in spite of cultural and religious diversities in their societies.

“Constitutional democracy with an unwavering commitment to the rule of law seems to me the best choice for emerging economies which seek justice – political, economic and social – for all,” Singh said

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