The Allahabad High Court recently observed that Bar Associations are duty-bound to evolve ways to secure legal aid for those who stand deprived of access to justice due to financial hardship. [ Shiv Kumar And Another v, State]
A bench of Justices Attau Rahman Masoodi and Ajay Kumar Srivastava added that the legal fraternity is expected to be sensitive about the cause of justice so that financially distressed people are able to have access to courts of law.
“Cause of justice is an essential and concomitant duty of the legal practitioners and Bar Associations are duty bound to evolve affordable means to the sufferers who on account of financial hardship stand deprived of access to justice,” the judgment stated.
The Court was hearing a criminal appeal filed by two persons (appellants) after a delay of 430 days.
The appellants informed the Court that they are poot persons and could not pay the fee demanded by a lawyer. As such, some time was spent arranging for the legal fee to file the case, the Court was told.
The Court found that the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) in Sitapur showed a lack of awareness and concern for the appellants, who lacked the means to approach the Court and were experiencing financial difficulties.
The bench proceeded to order the secretary of the DLSA to file a report on the issue. Further, the concerned jail authorities were also ordered to explain why the appellants were not given State legal aid for such a long time. The report is to be filed in two weeks’ time.
“The Secretary District Legal Services Authority is hereby directed to submit a report as to the manner in which the role of Legal Services Authority is hereby directed to submit a report as to the manner in which the role of Legal Services Authority was carried out and sensitized during the relevant period. The Superintendent District Jail, Sitapur shall also explain by filing an affidavit as to how the present appellants have remained deprived of the facility of legal aid provided by the State,” the Court directed.
The bench added that the information pertaining to other similarly situated undertrial prisoners or convicts who were languishing in jail should be submitted to Court so that it may pass necessary directions if required.
“We also expect the legal fraternity to be sensitive about the cause of justice so that financially distressed people are able to have access to the courts of law. The Bar Council of U.P is expected to take up the cause of justice amongst the members of legal fraternity so that no such reason is available for any counsel to spell out the same for seeking condonation of delay,” the Court said.
The Court proceeded to condone the delay in the present case after finding that valid reasons were given for such a delay. The matter was then scheduled to be heard in August.
Advocates Anita and Gauri Suwan Pandey represented the appellants.
Source: Bar and Bench.