MIL-OSI Asia-Pac: Text of PM’s address at the Commonwealth Legal Education Association – Commonwealth Attorney and Solicitors Generals Conference

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Source: Government of India (2)

Posted On: 03 FEB 2024 12:19PM by PIB Delhi

Distinguished legal luminaries, Guests from various nations across the world, and members of the esteemed audience. My greetings to all of you.

Friends,

It is a pleasure to inaugurate this Conference. I am happy that leading legal minds from across the world are here. On behalf of one point four billion Indians, I welcome all our international guests. I urge you all to experience Incredible India to the fullest.

Friends,

I am told that there are many friends from Africa here. India has a special relationship with the African Union. We are proud that the African Union became a part of the G20 during India’s presidency. This will go a long way in addressing the aspirations of the people of Africa.

Friends,

In the last few months, I have interacted with the legal fraternity on many occasions. A few days ago, I was at the celebration of 75 years of the Supreme Court of India. Last September, in this very location, I came to the International Lawyers Conference. Such interactions help us all appreciate the work of our justice system. These are also opportunities to resolve for better and faster justice delivery.

Friends,

Justice has been given great importance in Indian thoughts. Ancient Indian thinkers said:  न्यायमूलं स्वराज्यं स्यात्. It means justice is at the root of independent self-governance. Without justice, even the existence of a nation is not possible.

Friends,

The theme of this conference is ‘Cross-Border Challenges in Justice Delivery’. In a highly connected, rapidly changing world, this is a very relevant topic. Sometimes, ensuring justice in one country requires working with other countries. When we collaborate, we can understand each other’s systems better. Greater understanding brings greater synergy. Synergy boosts better and faster justice delivery. Therefore, such platforms and conferences are important.

Friends,

Our systems already work with each other in many domains. For example, air traffic control and maritime traffic. Similarly, we need to expand cooperation to investigation and justice delivery. Cooperation can happen even while respecting each other’s jurisdiction. When we work together, jurisdiction becomes a tool to deliver justice, not delay it.

Friends,

In recent times, the nature and scope of crime have seen a radical change. Criminals have wide networks across various countries and regions. They use the latest technology for both funding and operations. Economic crimes in one region are being used to fund activities in other regions. The rise of cryptocurrency and cyber threats are posing new challenges. 21st-century challenges cannot be fought with a 20th-century approach. There is a need to rethink, reimagine and reform. This includes modernizing legal systems that deliver justice. This includes making our systems more flexible and adaptable.

Friends,

When we speak of reforms, there needs to be a focus on making justice systems more citizen-centric. Ease of Justice is a pillar of justice delivery. In this space, India has many learnings to share. In 2014, the people of India blessed me with the responsibility of becoming the Prime Minister. Before that, I worked as the Chief Minister in the state of Gujarat. Back then, we decided to set up evening courts. This helped people attend court hearings after their work hours. This gave justice but also saved time and money. Hundreds of thousands of people benefited from this.

Friends,

India also has a unique concept of Lok Adalat. It means People’s Court. These courts provide a mechanism for settlement of small cases related to public utility services. This is a pre-litigation process. Such courts have resolved thousands of cases and ensured easy justice delivery. Discussions on such initiatives could be of great value across the world.

Friends,

Legal education is a key instrument in boosting justice delivery. Education is where both passion and professional competence are introduced to young minds. Worldwide, there is a discussion on how to bring more women into every domain. The first step to do so is to make each domain inclusive at the educational level. When the number of women in law schools increases, the number of women in the legal profession will also increase. Participants in this conference can exchange ideas on how more women can be brought into legal education.

Friends,

The world needs young legal minds who have diverse exposure. Legal education also needs to adapt to changing times and technologies. A focus on understanding the latest trends in crimes, investigation and evidence would be helpful.

Friends,

There is a need to help young legal professionals with greater international exposure. Our finest law universities can strengthen exchange programmes between countries. For example, India has perhaps the world’s only university dedicated to forensic science. Students, law faculty and even judges from various countries can be helped to explore short courses here. Further, there are many international institutions related to justice delivery. Developing countries can work together to get greater representation in them. Our students can also be helped to find internships at such institutions. This will enable our legal systems to learn from international best practices.

Friends,

India inherited a legal system from colonial times. But in the last few years, we made a number of reforms to it. For example, India has done away with thousands of obsolete laws from colonial times. Some of these laws had the potential to become tools of harassment of people. This has boosted ease of living and ease of doing business. India is also modernizing laws to reflect the present realities. Now, 3 new legislations have replaced more than 100-year-old colonial criminal laws. Earlier, the focus was on punishment and penal aspects. Now, the focus is on ensuring justice. Therefore, citizens have a sense of assurance rather than fear.

Friends,

Technology can also have a positive impact on justice systems. In the last few years, India has used drones to map places and provide clear property cards to rural people. Disputes reduce. The possibility of litigation reduces. And the justice system’s load decreases, making it more efficient. Digitalisation has also helped many courts in India take proceedings online. This has helped people access justice even from far-away locations. India is happy to share its learnings in this regard with other countries. We are also keen to learn about similar initiatives in other countries.

Friends,

Every challenge in justice delivery can be addressed. But the journey starts with one shared value. We must share a passion for justice. May this conference strengthen this spirit. Let us build a world where everyone has access to timely justice and none is left behind.

Thank You.

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DS/RT/AK

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