Legal aid is a farce: Gujarat HC

Legal aid is a farce: Gujarat HC
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Without mincing words, the Gujarat High Court has termed the system of providing legal aid to the poor...

Without mincing words, the Gujarat High Court has termed the system of providing legal aid to the poor litigants as 'a farce.' This harsh observation was made by the division bench comprising Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice A C Rao in a judgement setting aside the death penalty awarded to a woman for double murder.

The court noted that it was on account of poverty and being a helpless girl just 19 years of age that accused could not engage a seasoned, well- experienced lawyer for trial and instead had to depend on a junior lawyer who was not sufficiently experienced to conduct a trial.

"The penal of lawyers which is being prepared for the purpose of legal aid is not a platform to provide training to young lawyers or give them an opportunity to gain experience as regards conduct of a sessions case.

The cross- examination of the witnesses in a serious offence like murder is not a child's play. It is very unfortunate to note that in the case on hand there is practically no cross- examination. This is not just one case on hand."

The Court added that in future if the trial Judge is of the view having regard to the serious nature of the crime that the assistance of a seasoned and experienced criminal side lawyer is required, then it would be duty of the trial Judge to appoint one by fixing appropriate remuneration befitting to the stature of the said lawyer and thereafter recover the amount from the State government.

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