By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 23: The guarantee of equal justice will be rendered meaningless if the vulnerable sections of the society are unable to exercise their rights because of poverty or illiteracy, senior Supreme Court judge NV Ramana said on Monday.

During an event organised by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, Justice Ramana emphasised that ‘access to justice’ was not just a slogan but an idea that was deeply embedded in the constitutional vision of justice and formed the bedrock of the rule of law in a democratic country like India, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Ever since we declared ourselves to be an independent nation, we found ourselves caught between the twin problems of ‘poverty’ and ‘access to justice’. Sadly, even after 74 years of Independence, we are still discussing the same issue…Although the reality is sad, it should not demotivate us. As long as we are a nation which continues to face such dual realities, such discussions must continue,” said Justice Ramana, who is also the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). Justice Ramana is expected to take over as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) next month.

Underscoring the significance of free legal aid, the judge urged lawyers to extend a helping hand to those who could not afford legal fees by extending them legal services for free as a part of their duty towards the society.

Justice Ramana also highlighted that more than a million people were provided legal assistance between November 2019 and February 2021 through legal services clinics while ₹218.81 crores was awarded as compensation during the same period under the Victim Compensation Scheme.

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