By meghna at 2 December, 2009, 11:39 pm
The Constitution of India in its article 39 A provides for `Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid’. It reads like this: “The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.”
In Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar: The Supreme Court observed that, “The poor find it difficult to furnish bail even without sureties because very often the amount of the bail fixed by the courts is so unrealistically excessive that in a majority of cases the poor are unable to satisfy the police or the magistrate about their solvency.”
The apex court recognized speedy trial as the right of the accused and right to bail was considered as a rule and denying the same was regarded as an exception.
The state has the responsibility to guard the interests of its citizens irrespective of their financial position. The Preamble through the words of Justice: social, economical and political puts the responsibilty on the state to act as a guardian for the poor and the downtroden. According to the Marxist School of thought most people behind the bars are the poor. Is it because the poor do most of the crimes or is that the rich are never caught.
To rectify this deficiency of law countries like U.K. and South Africa have made extensive provisions in this regard. In India also, a concept of AMACUS CURIE prevails i.e. friends of court. The lawyers are appointed by the court to ensure that no person denied justice due to inability afford the legal procedure.
The Indian Judiciary has made several efforts to do proper justice to the poor. They have acknowleged letters as Public Interest Litigation, have appointed amacus curie and have expressly laid down the rights of the accused. Not only this a person has to released on parole if he has served more than half of the sentence he has been charged off being an undertrial.
But all the efforts of the courts would be futile if the lawyers don’t participate in the mechanism to provide justice to the poor. The lawyers should also selflessly involve themselves in this procedure. Unfortunately the decision of the division bench on a P.I.L stated otherwise. The judges were unsatisfied and furious with the state of legal aid in Delhi.
Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said “Scrap the panel if they(lawyers) do not work properly on the cases assigned to them by the legal aid committee” “If the lawyers have no commitment to the cases, make stringent rules for them,”
We all know that the lawyers donot always take the most ethical cases all the time. To make money they have to compromise on their ethics and morality. But I believe that every lawyer can take atleast 5% of his cases for the greater benefit of the society. The cases he knows he is not fighting for money but for his conscience. May be it wont make India a crime free society but it would definitely make it better than now.