New Delhi: One major concern which users of the justice system have expressed is that the lawyers representing them are inexperienced and unable to provide effective legal aid, said Justice S. Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court on Sunday. Muralidhar, who authored “Law, Poverty and Legal Aid: Access to Criminal Justice” in 2004, said that since many people who approach the court are from economically weaker sections of the society, experienced lawyers are crucial to protect their interests.
The report draws on hundreds of RTI applications and material available on the public domain on the legal aid framework in the country and looks at the implementation of schemes to ensure timely and effective legal representation. In order to ensure the quality of legal representation, Justice Muralidhar said, “legal aid committee lawyers should be paid the same as public prosecutors” and a system should be set up where a combination of a senior and junior lawyer take up a case in the court so that the client is not at a disadvantage.
“Our judicial system is such that when a case is called out in the court, 60 per cent of the time the lawyer won’t be present and if he is an experienced lawyer, then the frequency will turn into 80 per cent,” Muralidhar said. “With the system that we have, legal aid for poor translates to poor legal aid. So, by making a combination of a senior (with 10 years plus experience) and junior lawyer, we ensure that the most critical cases will have legal assistance,” he added.
Muralidhar highlighted the need for a “directory of legal service authorities” so that anyone, including the police, could access the lawyer. (IANS)