Speed up release of undertrials: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the inaugural session of the First All India District Legal Service Authorities meet, at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the inaugural session of the First All India District Legal Service Authorities meet, at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi on Saturday. ANI

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday stressed that ease of justice was equally important as ease of doing business and ease of living, as he urged the judiciary to speed up the release of undertrials awaiting legal aid and languishing in jails.

The urgent need to address the plight of the undertrial prisoners by providing legal aid was also underlined by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju at the first All India District Legal Services Authorities Meet here.

According to the 'Prison Statistics India' report published by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2020, there were 4,88,511 prison inmates of whom 76 percent or 3,71,848 were undertrials.

In his address at the meeting, the PM also praised the use of technology in India's judicial system, adding citizens had immense faith in the judiciary and that access to the judicial system was equally important as the delivery of justice for any society.

“This is the time of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal'. This is the time for the resolutions that will take the country to new heights in the next 25 years. Like Ease of Doing Business and Ease of Living, Ease of Justice is equally important in this Amrit Yatra of the country,” he said. “The Supreme Court has spoken on several occasions on the need to be sensitive towards the humanitarian issue of undertrial prisoners and the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) can take up the responsibility of providing legal aid to such prisoners.”

The PM said that the District Judges, as Chairpersons of undertrial review committees, could expedite the release of undertrial prisoners.

Lauding the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) for undertaking a campaign for the release of undertrial prisoners, he urged the Bar Council to encourage more lawyers to get involved in this campaign.

Highlighting the place of legal aid in the Directive Principles of the State Policy, Modi said this importance was reflected in the faith of the citizens in the judiciary of the country.

“As important as access to the judicial system is for any society, justice delivery is equally important. The judicial infrastructure also has an important contribution to this. In the last eight years, work has been done at a fast pace to strengthen the judicial infrastructure of the country,” he said.

Modi underlined India's leadership in information technology and fintech, and stressed there could not be a better time to introduce more power of technology to judicial proceedings.

“Under the e-Courts Mission, virtual courts are being started in the country. Courts have started functioning round the clock for crimes like traffic violations. Video conferencing infrastructure is also being expanded in the courts for the convenience of the people,” he said.

The PM noted that more than one crore cases had been heard through video conferencing in the country.

“This proves that our judicial system is committed to the ancient Indian values of justice and, at the same time, is ready to match the realities of the 21st century,” Modi said.

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