The Indian legal system is “so complicated” and expensive that poor people are denied access to it, the Law Commission chairman said today, while noting that even he would not be able to afford “big lawyers”. The bail conditions are so complicated that a poor man remains in jail and serves the entire sentence before a lawyer stands for him while the rich get bail in “advance”, Justice (retired) B S Chauhan said.
“The question is why our legal system and bail conditions are so complicated, that a poor person cannot afford to look towards the courts while a rich person can approach it in advance even before his arrest,” he said, while addressing a seminar on prisoners’ rights held here.
He also blamed “big lawyers” for discrimination in providing access to the legal system to the rich and poor people.
“Big lawyers can defend any kind of greatest offence. I retired as a Supreme Court judge, if I have a case, I cannot afford them. They are so expensive nowadays and they charge per hour, per day, like taxis,” he said.
The Law Commission chairman also batted for adopting vernacular languages in local courts instead of using English which was not be understood by the poor people.
“Why we are we shying from adopting vernacular language in local courts. We speak a foreign language so our client may not understand whether (what) we are arguing is relevant or not. This is the only purpose to carry on with English even after 79 years of independence,” he said.
The seminar organised by Tihar prisons in collaboration with Bureau of Police Research and Development, Delhi University’s School of Social work, and non profit rights group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), was also addressed by Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia.
“Talking about rights of prisoners, we must conceive those conditions that we may expect at our jails because any one, through a bad stoke of luck, may land there,” Sisodia said. He urged that the seminar should come out with a conclusion that can be implemented by the Delhi government.
The seminar was also addressed by the director general of Delhi Prisons, CHRI director Sanjoy Hazarika and Head of School of Social Work Neera Agnimitra.