Human rights and dignity of an individual ‘sacrosanct.’: CJI Ramana

It is necessary to bridge the gap between the privileged and vulnerable populations to remain as a society governed by law, he said.

Ramana

Chief Justice NV Ramana while addressing an event organized by National Legal Services Authority on Sunday expressed his concerns over the breach of human rights. In his address he stated how human rights are infringed the most at police stations.

Custodial torture and other police atrocities are problems that still prevail in our society.” Justice Ramana told adding that there is a lack of legal representation for the arrested/detained at police stations.

The CJI termed the issues of human rights and dignity of an individual ‘sacrosanct.’

There is a need to make justice equally accessible to all citizens. It is necessary to bridge the gap between the privileged and vulnerable populations to remain as a society governed by law, he said.

The Centre had told the parliament last year that around 1,697 persons had died in custody (Judicial and police) last year. The SC, in 2020 had asked the Centre, states, and the Union territories to install night vision CCTVs across police stations and central probe agencies, however, the execution of the order has not been completed yet.

The Chief justice iterated on the need to keep police excesses in check and ensure people are aware of the constitutional right to legal aid and availability of free legal aid services. He recommended the installation of display boards and outdoor hoardings in every police station/prison for this purpose. “The decisions taken in these early hours will later determine the ability of the accused to defend himself. Going by the recent reports even the privileged are not spared third-degree treatment,” he said.

He made mention of the concept of free legal aid provided to the needy during the freedom movement and how legal luminaries rendered pro-bono services to freedom fighters targeted by the colonial rulers. These luminaries went on to serve as members of the constituent assembly and thus, this spirit of service found reflection in the constitution, he added.

Terming the project as “Access to Justice” the CJI advises the NALSA to also actively carry out nationwide sensitization of Police Officers. NALSA on Sunday unveiled a legal services app that allows the submission of a legal aid application in few seconds from any place in the country. Justice Ramana who attended the event in presence of Justice U.U. Lalit said that this app is to be compulsorily installed in the mobile phones of the entire legal workforce.

NALSA Executive Chairman Justice UU Lalit said apart from spreading awareness on legal services through post offices and police stations, Bar Councils and law colleges can also be roped in for the process.

The CJI noted that the majority of those who do not have access to justice belonged to rural and remote areas due to a lack of connectivity. He has already written to the government emphasizing the need to bridge the digital divide on a priority basis. Taking into consideration the barriers that exist in accessing relevant legal information, Mr. Ramana said “For all times to come, we must remember that the realities of socio-economic diversity which prevail in our nation, cannot ever be a reason for denial of rights.”

Read: Why no Complaint under IT & Telegraph Act: CJI to Pegasus Petitioners

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