On Sunday, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi stated that the absence of legal awareness was the “root cause” of “deception, exploitation and deprivation” of rights and benefits of masses.

He was addressing the farewell function of the 17th All India Meet of State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) in Nagpur. Mr. Gogoi observed that “awareness” about one’s rights and the means of securing them are the “powerful instruments” to bring social and economic progress.

The chief justice also claimed that legal services must be constituted to “achieve distributed justice, effective implementation of welfare benefits and elimination of social and structural discrimination against the poor”.

To provide quality legal services justice Gogoi emphasized on the importance of legal literacy”, “technology and access” and the “impact and accountability”

According to him, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and State Legal Services Authorities are the “crucial vehicles” for releasing the Constitutional mandate of justice to all on the basis of equal opportunities.

“These bodies have to ensure through their methods that justice reaches the remotest corners of the country and the last person,” said the CJI.

He emphasized on the need for “legal literacy” and quoted, “awareness of one’s rights and means of securing those rights are powerful instruments for bringing about social and economic progress. Absence of legal awareness is a root cause of deception, exploitation, and deprivation of rights and benefits of the masses. Legal literacy and legal awareness go hand in hand”.

“Through education on legal topics is in school and college curriculum. It should go beyond awareness. What instead required is movement from near awareness to engagement,” he added.

“Efforts must be made to secure concerted engagement of young minds in understanding and utilizing that knowledge for the benefit of society. Not only law colleges but the students of schools and colleges must be included in the outreach program. Students and young persons have the potential to become the ambassadors of justice,” he further added.

“Technology and innovation should be embraced in all aspects of functions on the professionally-managed rendering of legal services at all the levels. It should ensure (delivery of) timely and effective legal services to the needy,” said the CJI.

He added: “Building committed cadres selected through a transparent and rigorous process to form away persuasive argument and to enhance and ensure timely payment of honorarium. Regular training should be provided to building capacity among panel lawyers and para-legals”.

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