The Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Evidence Act will be amended to Indianise the criminal justice system, Minister of Law and Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal said on August 25, referring to the recent introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, and two other new Bills in the Lok Sabha.
Mr. Meghwal made these comments at an event to mark the launch of the Tele-Law scheme 2.0, as well as to celebrate the feat of providing free legal advice to 50 lakh people across the country though the scheme.
The new version of the scheme will integrate the legal advice service under Tele-Law with legal representation services under the Nyaya Bandhu (pro bono) programme, enabling common citizens to access legal advice, legal assistance and legal representation through a single registration and single gateway of tele-law.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that though pro bono may sound like a Western concept, with examples often cited from the United States, the United Kingdom, and even South Korea, providing free legal services has been an Indian tradition.
Indian legal tradition
“The Indian tradition of knowledge is ancient and we have been offering legal services as per need. But such things are not written much because we were colonised and that is why western concepts were more,” Mr. Meghwal said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked why the government could not function keeping Indian traditions in mind.
“That is why a big decision has been taken to reform and amend the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act by the Home Minister,” Mr. Meghwal added.
He said that the volunteers extending the tele-law scheme through common service centres should not get bogged down by the effort needed to provide free legal advice to the needy. He also urged them to encourage those seeking justice, as a common person often feels disheartened or discouraged by the long battle ahead.
According to an official, several cases in which tele-law centres help people get pre-litigation advice end up in court. So, lawyers who are part of the Nyaya Bandhu scheme can now take up for free cases of those willing to contest their claims in court.