President Pratibha Patil on Sunday asked lawyers to avoid adjournments to prevent delay in finalisation of matters and suggested that they should contribute towards free legal aid to allow the poor to have access to justice.
“When a person approaches the court with a grievance, it is in the expectation that the matter will be dealt within a reasonable period of time…As a lawyer, you should avoid adjournments as much as possible, as these add to delays in finalisation of matters,” she said.
Patil was addressing the platinum jubilee celebrations of the High Court Bar Association (HCBA) in Nagpur.
She also asked the lawyers to avoid litigation to resolve disputes and rather resort to mediation to settle issues.
“This will enhance reputation of the lawyer as a peacemaker,” she said.
Patil’s comments came against the backdrop of a survey conducted by Centre for Policy Research, an independent organisation, which said 53,000 cases are pending with the Supreme Court, 40 lakh with High Courts and 2.7 crore with lower courts as of July 2009.
“On account of court fees and high fees of lawyers, legal services are unaffordable for many…To take care of that Article 39A of the Constitution calls for free legal aid to those who cannot access justice due to economic or other disabilities,” she said, asking lawyers to contribute in the free legal aid cell.
“They (lawyers) should use their knowledge to contribute to society by taking up socially important matters and issues of weaker sections,” she said.
Referring to new challenges that are emerging, Patil said legal systems have to cope with the impact of 21st century technologies in the fields of Information Technology, bio-technology, medicine and intellectual property.
Patil said markets are growing very fast and getting integrated.
There are new national and international laws in the field of commerce and trade, finance and investment, as well as in a variety of new types of services.
She also favoured setting up of a National Law School in Nagpur as demanded by HCBA.
The President recalled her days as a lawyer and said the experience has helped her in public life.
Maharashtra Governor K Shankarnarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Supreme Court judges Dalveer Bhandari and Vikas Sirpurkar and Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice Mohit Shah were present on the occasion.