Over 40 percent Indians deprived of basic rights: SC judge

Agartala, June 21 (IANS) Over 40 percent Indians were deprived of certain basic rights and opportunities, Justice Tirath Singh Thakur of the Supreme Court has said here.

“Over 40 percent out of 1.25 billion Indians are acutely deprived of certain basic rights and opportunities,” said Justice Thakur, who is also the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Delivering his speech at a symposium here on Saturday night, the apex court judge said: “Over 40 percent of Indians are living below the poverty line. They also are surviving with lack of literacy, lack of basic opportunities and scopes besides economic deficiencies.”

He said the NALSA and State Legal Services Authorities were working to provide various legal services and conducting awareness programme for the benefit of the people specially those are deprived, tribals and scheduled caste.

“As a rule, judges are governing the justices and legal matters, but a father also must do justice to his children, a husband or a wife must do justices to each other, a parliamentarian or a legislator must do justice to the people of their constituencies and a minister do justice to all his subjects,” he said.

“All of our target must be to support neglected people of our society. Injustice cannot be tolerated in our system,” Justice Thakur said, adding that poverty should not be an impediment in providing justice to the weaker section of society.

NALSA’s executive chairman said it was a challenge to make disadvantage and illiterate people aware of their rights in a country where legal literacy percentage was much below the expected level.

“There is a commitment to ensure that poor people have equal access to justice. We have been devising our own ways to reach out to them. In this mission, students are our ambassadors,” Justice Thakur said.

Tripura High Court Chief Justice Deepak Gupta said that according to a survey conducted by a Guwahati-based NGO, over 86 percent of tribals were not at all aware about the legal aid services.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, State Legal Services Authority’s executive chairman and Tripura High Court Judge Utpalendu Bikash Saha were among others who spoke at the symposium, organised to spread the legal knowledge among the students, youths and others.

The NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.

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