UPDATED: March 23, 2021 09:51 IST
Justice NV Ramana, who is next in line to be the next Chief Justice of India, on Monday said that India is still dealing with questions of access to justice. Justice Ramana encouraged lawyers to do more pro bono work for the sake of justice.
Speaking at an event to commemorate 25 years of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in Delhi, Justice Ramana said, “Ever since we declared ourselves to be an independent nation, we found ourselves caught between the twin problems of ‘poverty’ and ‘access to justice’. The architects of modern India had debated this issue on several national and international platforms. Sadly, even after 74 years of independence, we are still discussing the same issue.”
“One would have expected that, in this fast-paced world, topics such as these would have become outdated, however they have not,” said Justice Ramana.
The Supreme Court judge further added India being the second most populous nation in the world is a force to reckon with, but on the other side of this success story, there are millions of Indians who still live without the basic fundamental rights, including access to justice.
“We are still a country with millions of people living without access to basic fundamental amenities of life, including access to justice. Although the reality is sad, the same should not demotivate us,” said Justice Ramana.
“I would take this opportunity to remind all my lawyer friends, that you are the successors of our founding fathers such as Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. Never forget your duty towards your society,” he said.
“Please listen to those whose voice is the weakest in society, and understand the plight of those who cannot afford legal fees. Extend a helping hand whenever you can. I believe that all lawyers should attempt to do some pro bono work in order to give back to society and serve the people,” Justice Ramana said.
Pro bono work is voluntary service undertaken without any payment.
As the senior-most Supreme Court judge, Ramana is the current Chairperson of NALSA. He also pointed out the work done by the Legal Aid Services Authorities during the Covid-19 lockdown, adding that “as a roadmap for the future, the Legal Services Authorities are focused on developing an accessible mechanism to redress violation of rights and empowering the people through legal services and legal awareness”.