We have many tributes to pay to Justice Krishna Iyer, he was an exceptional jurist, and his contribution to the country and judiciary are unparalleled. One among his many contributions, his work with respect to Legal Aid, when in 1973 he drafted India’s first comprehensive report on free legal aid, was of particular interest to me.
There are 2,78,000 under trials prisoners in India as opposed to convicts of 1,29,000. Apart from increasing number of fast track courts and setting up more courts, we also need to ensure that free legal aid is provided to those in need of it. I questioned the Government on whether it has any plans to introduce legal aid clinics, especially in prisons so as to provide legal aid to under trial prisoners from low income groups. The same has been implemented in Trichi, Tamil Nadu.
Apart from which, I also questioned the Government on plans to expand Gujarat’s successful model of Nari Adalats. The Nari-adalat is an internal infrastructure consisting of the women, run by women and for the women. The most successful Vadodra Nari Adalat started in 1995 has become a model adalat. Women feel more comfortable speaking up in Nari Adalats as opposed to traditional courts. I asked the Minister if we could have a similar initiative wherein Nari Adalats are conducted across the country on a weekly basis or twice a month.
The minister responded by appreciating my interest regarding this issue and promised to write to all state Government’s suggesting the implementation of Nari Adalats in their states.