TAMIL NADU

A historic necessity, says Bhardwaj

MADURAI, JULY 24. Lawyers should not get divided over the establishment of the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai and they should demonstrate a spirit of accommodation and goodwill and resolve their differences, the Union Minister for Law and Justice, H. R. Bhardwaj, said here today.

Addressing the Congress Legal Cell, he pointed out that the setting up of the Bench had become "a historic necessity". The matter had been pending for decades and it was a privilege of the new Government at the Centre to have creation of the Madurai Bench as its "first duty". Divergent views had been expressed over the issue and hence a committee of judges was formed to hear them.

Mr. Bhardwaj appealed to the lawyers to sink their differences and ensure that the Bench functioned successfully. He said it was started away from the principal seat only in the interest of litigants. Judges and lawyers were meant to play a "specific task and a special role". The legal profession was meant to serve the consumers of justice and "whenever something helped the common man" the legal fraternity "should be forthcoming." It was a service-oriented profession and "lawyers are not for money and briefs but to serve litigants."

Vacancies to be filled

Referring to the vacancies in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, Mr. Bhardwaj said when the new Government took over there were over 300 of them. "There was total lethargy" in filling up the vacancies and there were also "attempts to saffronise the judiciary" earlier. Now more attention was being paid to appoint judges and "in three to four months we can safely grapple with the problem of vacancies."

Legal aid network

The Government was also keen on expanding the legal aid network so as to reach out to the taluk level. Though the legal aid network had slowed down in the last few years, there was a plan to spread it to help poor litigants and lawyers hailing from rural areas.

The Congress Legal Cell would soon organise a convention in Chennai to discuss the issues confronting the legal fraternity, he said.

A. G. S. Ram Babu, former Madurai MP, appealed to the Minister to ensure that writ powers were vested with the Madurai Bench. He also wanted him to expedite the appointment of judges to fill up vacancies.

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