Legal gallery: Duty of society to offer opportunity to accused to defend himself: SC Judge

Justice Lalit said that even though a criminal must be brought to book and punished for his wrong deeds for an orderly society, legal representation is part of everyone's fundamental rights

PTIUpdated: Monday, August 02, 2021, 03:48 AM IST
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New Delhi: It is the duty of every member of an orderly society to offer every possible opportunity to an accused to defend himself, Supreme Court judge U U Lalit said on Sunday.

He said that to ensure that no accused remains unrepresented during any stage of the criminal investigation and the trial, each police station in the country must have 'display boards' containing information about the right to legal aid and availability of free legal aid services.

Such board and posters are going to be installed at all the police stations across the Haryana, he informed.

Justice Lalit said that even though a criminal must be brought to book and punished for his wrong deeds for an orderly society, legal representation is part of everyone's fundamental rights.

He was speaking at the launch of the year-long campaign 'Quality of services is key to access to justice for all', organised by Haryana Legal Services Authority in Gurugram in Haryana.

"It is true that for an orderly society a criminal must be brought to book, a criminal must be proceeded against, a criminal must be punished for his wrong deeds.

"But at the same time, as an orderly society, it is the duty of every member of the society to offer to him every possible opportunity to defend himself," he said.

He said that display boards and posters at every police station in the country "are the first step in the direction to ensure that no accused remains unrepresented during any stage of the criminal investigation and the trial, so that every opportunity is afforded to a person to defend himself." He said that during the last year and a half, when the entire humanity has been on the back foot because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual platform has emerged as a "platform of solution".

All interactions, whether through public offices or other modes, even entertainment and other things have gone for a toss completely due to the pandemic situation, he said.

However, this situation has also taught us to improvise, innovate "and to sort of bring out the best within us.

"It has taught us that the virtual platform can be a platform of solution, where many of our problems can get sorted out." Today all the courts are functioning through virtual modes, he noted.

Justice Lalit also inaugurated the video conferencing facilities in all 22 DLSAs (District Legal Services Authorities) in the state, which will facilitate an interactive platform to fill the communication gap between legal aid counsel and client.

He also inaugurated 'Kids Zones' in 18 DLSAs to cater to the needs of children who accompany couples whose cases are referred for mediation.

Besides Justice Lalit, Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and HC judges - Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice Rajan Gupta - also spoke at the occasion.

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