Modi asks State governments to adopt a humane approach regarding undertrial prisoners
New Delhi, October 15, 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged the State governments to adopt a humane approach regarding undertrial prisoners.
Addressing the inaugural session of the All India Conference of Law Ministers and Law Secretaries at Ekta Nagar, Gujarat via video message, Modi said he had also raised the issue at a joint meeting of Chief Justices of High Courts. He called for a speedy trial for the disposal of pending cases.
“A sensitive justice system is essential for a capable nation and a harmonious society,” he added.
Noting that the critical meeting of law ministers and secretaries of all states in the country is taking place under the grandeur of the Statue of Unity, he said the inspiration of Sardar Patel will help the country achieve its goals during this phase of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
“When justice is seen to be delivered, then the faith of the countrymen in the constitutional institutions is strengthened. And when justice is delivered, the confidence of the common man goes up.
“The biggest aspect of our society is the tendency to improve itself while moving forward on the path of progress,” he added.
“Our society keeps on weeding out irrelevant laws and wrong customs. Otherwise, when any tradition turns into orthodoxy, it turns out to be a burden on society.
“The people of the country should feel neither the absence of government nor the pressure of the government.”
Speaking about removing the pressure of the government from the citizens, the Prime Minister said that, in the last eight years, India had repealed more than 1,500 archaic laws and reduced more than 32,000 compliances to put an end to the legal hurdles that obstruct the path of innovation and ease of living. “Many of these laws were continuing from the time of slavery. Several more such laws were still in operation in the states," he said.
He urged the participants at the conference to discuss steps for the abolition of such laws.
“In this Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, new laws should be made by abolishing the laws which have been going on from the time of slavery,” he added.
The delay in serving justice has come across as the biggest challenge and the judiciary was working with utmost seriousness in this direction.
On the mechanism of alternative dispute resolution, the Prime Minister noted that it has been put to good use in the villages of India for a long time and can now be promoted to the state level. “We have to understand how to make it a part of the legal system at the local level in the states,” he added.
He said when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the then government had introduced the concept of evening courts. Cases which were less serious in terms of sections were taken up by the evening courts which resulted in the resolution of more than 9 lakh cases in Gujarat in recent years.
He also highlighted the emergence of the Lok Adalats that have led to the disposal of lakhs of cases in various states and reduced the burden of the courts. “People living in the rural areas have benefitted immensely,” he added.
Noting the responsibility of the ministers in formulating laws in Parliament, the Prime Minister said if there was confusion in the law itself, it would be the common people who have to bear the brunt, no matter the intentions. Ordinary people have to spend a lot of money and run from pillar to post to get justice.
“When the law comes to the understanding of the common man, then its effect is something else,” he added.
“Local language plays a big role in the system for ease of justice. An academic ecosystem will also have to be created for the youth in the mother tongue. Law courses should be in the mother tongue, our laws should be written in simple language, digital libraries of important cases of High Courts and Supreme Court should be in the local language,” he added.
“When the judicial system grows along with society, it has a natural tendency to adopt modernity. As a result, the changes that take place in society are also visible through the justice system,” he said. The emergence of e-courts and virtual hearings and the promotion of e-filings were steps in this direction.
These systems will get a major boost with the arrival of 5G in the country. “Every state will have to update and upgrade its systems. It should also be an important goal of our legal education to prepare it according to technology,” he added.
Underlining the supremacy of the Constitution, the Prime Minister said the Constitution is the origin of the judiciary, legislature and executive.
“Be it the government, Parliament, our courts, all three are, in a way, the children of the same mother. So even though the functions are different, if we look at the spirit of the constitution, there is no scope for argument or competition. Like the children of a mother, all three have to serve Ma Bharati, together they have to take India to new heights in the 21st century,” he added.
Union Minister of Law & Justice Kiren Rijiju and Minister of State S P Singh Baghel were among those present on the occasion.
The two-day conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Law & Justice. The objective of the conference is to provide a common forum for policymakers to discuss issues relating to the Indian Legal and Judicial system.
The States and UTs will be able to share their best practices, exchange new ideas, and improve their mutual cooperation through this conference.
The conference will witness discussions revolving around topics like alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration and mediation for quick and affordable justice, upgrading overall legal infrastructure, removing obsolete laws, improving access to justice, reducing pendency of cases and ensuring speedy disposal, bringing uniformity in proposals relating to state bills for better centre-state coordination and strengthening of State Legal Systems, among others.