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Legal education assumes significance: PM

Source : IBNS
Last Updated: Sat, Feb 16, 2013 13:14 hrs

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said legal education as an aspect of professional education has assumed considerable significance over time not only in terms of 'historical utility of law in society' but also in the current context of 'globalization' and an increasingly 'interdependent world that we live in'.

"The need for trained law personnel in the field of academics, litigation, corporate practice, Government and civil society has increased significantly over the past years. This demand is expected to rise even more rapidly in the years to come," Singh said while addressing at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Bar Council of India.



He said the India´s legal fraternity will face newer challenges as Indian ´economy expands and integrates with the global economy´.

"We live in rapidly and fast changing times. As the Indian economy expands and integrates with the global economy, there are newer challenges that India´s legal fraternity faces. Our legal luminaries require a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of an interdependent and global economy," Singh said.

"The emergence of a multilateral legal and judicial architecture, having a bearing on the domestic laws of the country and vice versa, necessitates an in-depth understanding of the principles of public and private international laws," he said.

The PM said: "There are new types of cases that lawyers have to deal with in the area of conflict resolution. There is an increase in the number of cases that relates to Intellectual Property Rights and enforcement of international commercial agreements."

"Cases relating to our obligations and commitments made in international agreements and conventions, such as the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements, have now started reaching courts of law and Arbitral Tribunals. I would urge all members of the Bar to equip themselves with the expertise necessary to handle all these new types of cases in emerging areas," he said.

Singh said the Bar Council of India has enormous responsibilities to discharge.

" It has a regulatory function to perform in prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the Bar. It also sets the standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities and institutions of legal education whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate," the PM said.

Its other functions include protecting the rights, privileges and interests of advocates and implementing schemes for their welfare," he said.

Singh said: "The work of the Bar Council of India and that of the State Bar Councils have an implication for the public at large."

He said: "This is because the effectiveness of the Bar Councils in performing their duties and functions is a factor in determining the strength and quality of our justice delivery system. If advocates maintain high standards of professional conduct at all times, it serves the interests of the litigating public. Similarly a high standard of professional knowledge of legal luminaries serves to improve the quality of judicial decisions. "

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's address at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Bar Council of India at Vigyan Bhavan, in New Delhi on Saturday:

"It is a great privilege for me to participate in this inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Bar Council of India.

We have just had the pleasure of listening to some eminent legal personalities of our country, including the Hon'ble Chief Justice of Supreme Court. I wonder what I can add to what they have already said so eloquently on matters that relate to law and our legal system. Let me therefore seek your indulgence before I begin.

The Bar Council of India is the premier representative body of professional lawyers in our country. It can be legitimately proud of the glorious contribution its members have made to the processes of nation building. I congratulate the Bar Council and its members for their achievements.

Many of the leading figures of our freedom movement were legal luminaries and their contribution to the national cause both before and after independence is now a part of our history and if I may say so also our heritage. Mahatma Gandhi, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozshah Mehta, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pt. Motilal Nehru, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr B.R. Ambedkar were all amongst the greatest sons of India who laid the foundation of a modern and progressive India.

A large number of members of the Constituent Assembly were also prominent legal luminaries of their time, including Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, whose unique contribution to the framing of our Constitution will always shine bright.

The Bar Council of India has enormous responsibilities to discharge. It has a regulatory function to perform in prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the Bar. It also sets the standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities and institutions of legal education whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate. Its other functions include protecting the rights, privileges and interests of advocates and implementing schemes for their welfare.

Legal education as an aspect of professional education has assumed considerable significance over time, not only in terms of historical utility of law in society but also in the current context of globalization and an increasingly interdependent world that we live in. The need for trained law personnel in the field of academics, litigation, corporate practice, Government and civil society has increased significantly over the past years. This demand is expected to rise even more rapidly in the years to come. I am happy that the Bar Council is actively working to promote the highest standards in legal education, comparable to the best in the world.

Clearly, the work of the Bar Council of India and that of the State Bar Councils have an implication for the public at large. This is because the effectiveness of the Bar Councils in performing their duties and functions is a factor in determining the strength and quality of our justice delivery system. If advocates maintain high standards of professional conduct at all times, it serves the interests of the litigating public. Similarly a high standard of professional knowledge of legal luminaries serves to improve the quality of judicial decisions.

I believe that members of the legal fraternity should remember that apart from their duty towards clients, they perform a public duty as well as officers of the court in furtherance of the cause of justice. They should always keep in view the larger objective of advancement of public morality, truth and justice in their wider connotation. It is for this reason that the practice of law has a public utility flavor and an inbuilt element of public service. This exalted status enjoins upon legal fraternity to scrupulously abide by the Code of Conduct prescribed by the Bar Council.

We live in rapidly and fast changing times. As the Indian economy expands and integrates with the global economy, there are newer challenges that India´s legal fraternity faces. Our legal luminaries require a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of an interdependent and global economy. The emergence of a multilateral legal and judicial architecture, having a bearing on the domestic laws of the country and vice versa, necessitates an in-depth understanding of the principles of public and private international laws.

There are new types of cases that lawyers have to deal with in the area of conflict resolution. There is an increase in the number of cases that relates to Intellectual Property Rights and enforcement of international commercial agreements. Cases relating to our obligations and commitments made in international agreements and conventions, such as the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements, have now started reaching courts of law and Arbitral Tribunals. I would urge all members of the Bar to equip themselves with the expertise necessary to handle all these new types of cases in emerging areas.

Article 39A of our Constitution directs the State to secure that the operation of the legal system in our country promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity and, in particular, to provide free legal aid so that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen because of economic or other disabilities. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted as a part of our efforts towards fulfilling these obligations. Legal Services Authorities have been established at the National, State and District and Taluka levels under the Act to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of our society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. The National Legal Services Authority has formulated a number of schemes to provide "access to justice" to the hitherto marginalized people. These include schemes for free legal aid to under-trial prisoners and for supporting the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. I would urge members of the legal fraternity at various levels to become active participants and facilitators in the implementation of these schemes intended to empower the marginalised people.

It is of critical importance that the Bench and the Bar work together in ensuring the rule of law in our country and in furthering our Constitutional objectives. Unless this happens, we cannot succeed substantially in providing speedy and affordable justice to millions of our country men, especially those who belong to the poor and weaker sections of our society. There are many challenges to be overcome and many bottlenecks to be removed before this objective of ours becomes a reality. An obvious area of concern is the large number of cases pending in courts especially in trial courts. I would urge the whole of the legal fraternity to pool their knowledge, wisdom and experience to find ways and means to tackle this problem.

I am fully aware of the responsibilities of the Government in working with the Judiciary and other stake holders to build a strong and effective justice delivery system in our country. I reaffirm our Government´s commitment to take all necessary action in this direction, and also to work for the welfare of the legal fraternity.

With these worlds, I wish the Bar Council of India and all its members a very bright professional future. You have served the country exceedingly well in the first fifty years of your existence, but I venture to think that the best is yet to come."

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