The 17th All India Meet of State Legal Services Authorities began in Nagpur yesterday, under the aegis of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), and will conclude today, i.e., August 18. It is an annual meet, designed to contemplate and work upon present-day issues in the legal sector and also to review the progress of existing programs.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the meet in which various dignitaries viz. Executive Chairpersons from State Legal Services Authorities, High Court Legal Service Committees, Member Secretaries and Secretaries, High Court Legal Services Committees participated.
NALSA was founded in 1995 with the objective to provide free legal services to eligible candidates and organize Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of cases. This year, the organization focused on enhancing the quality of legal aid.
In his address, the Law Minister commended NALSA for standing up to scare access to justice and fulfilling its objective by ensuring legal aid delivery. He suggested that the country had been remodeled by the success of Digital India Campaign and NALSA should also take advantage of the contemporary technological developments and reach out to people by way of social media. He also spoke about the significance of alternative dispute redressal mechanisms and insisted on making India a global hub for arbitration.
Executive Chairman of NALSA and sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice S.A. Bobde also spoke about alternative dispute redressal mechanisms and mentioned that the call for pre-litigation mediation had only become louder in the recent years. He appreciated National Law Schools in Maharashtra for instituting courses on mediation in line with this recent surge. He also apprised the gathering with NALSA's initiative to provide legal aid, aligned with Public Defender system. 'The protocol spells out a framework for providing legal assistance at pre-arrest, arrest and remand stages. It is hoped that it will result in avoiding unnecessary arrests', he said.
Sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice N.V.Ramana also addressed the gathering. He stressed upon enhancing the quality of legal aid provided to linguistic groups by translating all laws and bare acts into regional languages. He said that it was important to adopt an innovative approach towards justice delivery mechanism in order to upgrade its efficiency.
Day 1 of the meet focused upon the means to enhance quality of legal aid delivery. Discussions were held with a view to make front offices capable of working as one stop centres and instituting Public Defender Systems to monitor legal aid cases. Resolutions were passed to undertake effective measures in respect of legal aid to prisoners and victim compensation. Discussions were also held on techniques to increase the effectiveness of Lok Adalats and mediation. The meeting is set to conclude today, post day 2 discussions.