GUWAHATI, March 17: “India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is experiencing transformative changes and in the wake of these changes, all the four pillars of democracy are working in tandem to champion the cause of public welfare and public interests”, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in Guwahati on Saturday.
“Judiciary is the guiding force of our country which leads the legal way for other three branches of our democracy to follow”, Sonowal said addressing the 16th All India Meet of State Legal Services Authorities with the Supreme Court Judge Justice Ranjan Gogoi here.
He also said that judiciary always plays the role of a catalyst to take the laws framed in the legislature to the doorsteps of every user.
Sonowal also said that to make the democracy vibrant, involvement of the people in the system and their active participation in the functioning of the Government is of paramount importance. Keeping this in mind the state government is giving maximum thrust on making Government services more accessible to the citizens. He said legal services being the core of all services, concerted efforts have been paid by the state government in association with the judiciary to improve the reach of judiciary in the interior places of the state.
Hailing the role of State Legal Services Authorities which was set up in the year 1998, the chief minister said that the authority during past 20 years extended free valuable legal aid to the needy people and worked for generating more legal awareness in the society. From organising Lok Adalats for disposal of long pending cases, in its initial stages, the activities of the State Legal Services Authority have become manifold. Moreover, its handling of pre-litigation disputes and spreading legal education have immensely benefited the people of the state, Sonowal added.
Sonowal also said that due to its concerted efforts of the Legal Services Authority, conditions of the prisoners in jails have also undergone rapid changes. The digitisation of the Legal Aid Clinics in the central jails of the districts has enabled the convicts and prisoners to know the status of their pending cases by click of a button now. The convicts are also getting the facilities of filing their jail appeals without any hassle through such clinics. Making a special mention of the project called ‘Reach Out and Respond’ Sonowal said that under the project where in fitment of artificial limbs were distributed to differently abled persons in collaboration with the State Social Welfare and Health & Family Welfare Department, Bhagwan Mahaveer Biklang Sahayata Samiti and ALIMCO, visible changes have been brought about in the life of the Divyangjans.
Judge, Supreme Court of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi who is also the executive chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) while speaking on the occasion said that extending legal services to the needy and under-privileged sections of the society has been the national commitment of the NALSA and it has been providing free legal services to the weaker sections of the society free of cost. He also said one of the objectives to hold the 16th All India Meet of State Legal Services Authorities was to identify the gaps, take remedial steps and chart out future course of actions for the Legal Services Authorities.
He also said that the National Legal Services Authorities have envisioned to open Legal Literacy Clubs in educational institutions to spread legal literacy in different parts of the country. It may be noted that a few Legal Literacy Clubs have already been in operation in Assam. He also said that the Legal Services Authorities have also been working to bridge the gap between the public and the agencies which are in-charge of providing rightful services to the people.
Synchronising with the occasion which was organised under the auspices of Assam State Legal Services Authority in association with National Legal Services Authority, chief minister Sonowal also released a Coffee Table Book and Video CD embellishing the journey of NALSA made so far.
Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, Justice Ajit Singh, Judge, Gauhati High Court Justice Hrishikesh Roy, legal luminaries from across the nation and a host of other dignitaries were present on the occasion.