New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) The National Legal Services Authority will host the first regional conference on access to legal aid here on November 27 and 28 during which deliberations will be held on key areas, including developing effective examples of people-centric justice systems and strategies for reducing pre-trial detention.
While President Droupadi Murmu will attend the valedictory session of the conference on November 28, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar will grace the inaugural session on November 27, NALSA said in a press release.
It said the conference will bring together chief justices, ministers of justice, legal-aid officers, policymakers and civil society experts from 70 Africa-Asia-Pacific countries of the Global South to discuss the challenges and opportunities in ensuring access to quality legal aid services for the poor and vulnerable.
"The conference will also provide a platform for sharing best practices and identifying innovative solutions to improve access to justice in the participating countries," it said.
The release said the NALSA will host the two-day conference with support from the Government of India and in collaboration with the International Legal Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Children's Fund.
It said over 200 delegates will participate in the conference, which includes Chief Justices of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Zimbabwe and the minister of justices from Kazakhstan, Nepal, Palau, Seychelles, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zambia.
The NALSA said Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, Supreme Court judges Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who is also the Executive Chairman of NALSA, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna will also attend the conference along with Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Attorney General R Venkataramani and others.
"President of India Droupadi Murmu will bestow her distinguished presence at the valedictory session of the conference on November 28, 2023. The President of India will be joined by Chief Justice of India along with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on the dais," the release said.
It said the conference includes a chief justices' round table on "ensuring equal access to justice for all in the Global South" and a ministerial round table on "advancing the 2030 agenda on sustainable development: Access to justice-Global South".
"The key areas for deliberations include developing effective examples of people-centric justice systems, measuring the quality of legal aid services, strategies for reducing pre-trial detention, early access to legal aid in criminal cases, legal aid in civil cases, sustainable funding mechanisms, child-friendly legal aid, etc," the NALSA said.
It said this regional conference follows a call made by the participants of the Second International Conference on Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems held in Argentina in 2016 for conferences to be organised at the regional level.
"The conference will pioneer the principle of equal access to justice for all, and highlight regional efforts to implement the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems 2012 and to further the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals," it said.
The release said the conference would reaffirm the critical role of the judiciary in ensuring access to legal representation and the government's commitment to providing state-funded legal aid services.
It said the focus will be on strengthening the frameworks on access to justice in the Global South.
"This conference will showcase India's 'Access to Justice' framework which is one of the most developed in the world in terms of guaranteeing vast coverage of the population, promising universal access to legal aid for all forms of judicial and quasi-judicial legal processes and for advancing 'ease of justice'," it said.
"It is a first-of-its-kind platform where the leaders of the two pillars of democracy -- legislature and judiciary -- will come together to accelerate the progress towards sustainable development goals," the NALSA said.
"This will be a great leap from the previous international conferences on this subject matter where the governments and judicial organs have not participated," it said.