The Calcutta High Court recently expressed concern over the “dismal failure in the matter of extending effective legal aid/assistance to convicts”, and made it mandatory for Judges across the State to inform convicts of their right to file an appeal and legal aid while disposing of a case.
The guidelines were issued by Justice Joymalya Bagchi in an Appeal filed by one Ms. Malati Sardar whose appeal took 6 years to reach the Court due to non-appointment of a lawyer on her behalf.
“Under such circumstances, I am of the opinion that a procedure is required to be laid down so that legal aid/assistance to every convict to prefer appeal against judgment and order of conviction and sentence is promptly intimated to him at the time of delivery of the judgment itself so that the fundamental right to legal aid/assistance may be effectively availed of as a vibrant reality and does not become a distant mirage in the inert letters of legal classics,” the Court therefore, opined.
It then issued the following directions:
It, thereafter, directed the Registrar General of the Court, State Legal Services Authority and Director General of Correctional Services, West Bengal to submit compliance reports on the next date of hearing.