The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA’s) new executive chairperson Justice N V Ramana on Friday released a ‘Vision 2020’ document with its theme, “Mission Access Justice to All”.
Justice Ramana, who is also the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was nominated to the post of NALSA executive chairperson on November 27. The plans he has lined out include a novel ‘Legal Aid Defence Counsel System’ which will engage lawyers on full-time basis; an online portal for centralising information about prisoners; providing legal assistance to the needy at pre-arrest, arrest and remand stages; and convening of legal services clinic in jails.
For the future, there was a need to establish a “target-oriented mechanism”, wherein resources can be invested after identifying specific problem areas, says the document.
The idea of the ‘Legal Aid Defence Counsel System’ was adopted at the NALSA All India Meet in Nagpur, it says.
Explaining the need for it, Justice Ramana said one of the biggest problems hindering the success of legal aid was the lack of continuity, focus and accountability. The new system is aimed at increasing the same, by assigning the cases from the beginning to advocates whose sole attention will be on legal aid cases, and whose performance will therefore be more effectively reviewed. The project will be implemented in sixteen districts across the country on a pilot basis for two years. The online portal project is intended at creating a unified platform to integrate data about legal services provided to prisoners at all levels.
There are also plans for establishing a specialised wing to provide fast action to persons affected by cyber offences as well as a “victim assistance mechanism” to protect the victim in cases where the police are “negligent, non-responsive and partisan” in taking action on the grievances of a complainant.
Justice Ramana said that besides these areas, it is also imperative to constantly review and evaluate the quality of lawyers and the paralegal volunteers appointed by NALSA.