India moving to promote legal empowerment, reforms: PM

September 11th, 2008 - 11:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday the government had taken several steps to promote legal empowerment and judicial reforms but a lot more needed to be done.”In the past four years, we have taken several initiatives to strengthen the judiciary at various levels and reduce the backlog of pending cases,” he said in his address after releasing the book “Judicial Reflections of Justice Bhagwati” here.

P.N. Bhagwati, a retired chief justice of India, had activated the concept of public interest suits, even taking cognisance of post-cards and media reports as the basis for filing such cases.

The prime minister stated that the government has been working with the judiciary to put in place “fast-track” courts and “family courts” and pointed out that there was a large unfinished agenda to reduce the cost of litigation, and to ensure accessibility of the justice system to the poor and marginalized sections of the population.

In this context, Manmohan Singh noted that the government recognised that providing access to justice in a country of India’s size raised many issues like values “that must form the basis of our justice system and the concern to make it accessible to the vulnerable and marginalized”.

He also said that the central government had also asked the state governments to increase the numbers of judicial officers at the district and subordinate levels.

Paying rich tributes to the former chief justice, Manmohan Singh said: “I have had the good fortune of knowing justice Bhagwati for a very long time. His younger brother, Jagdish, and I were fellow students at Cambridge University and have been friends over a lifetime.”

“For both of us, Justice Bhagwati, was a respected elder brother. Today, therefore, I release this book as a token of my admiration, respect and affection for an elder brother.”

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