PM prod to lawyers

New Delhi, Feb. 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked lawyers to acquire the expertise required to deal with international business laws, intellectual property rights and arbitration agreements as they had a bearing on the domestic situation.

Singh also urged the legal fraternity to join hands with the government in providing speedy justice to the common man and expressed concern over the increasing number of pending cases in courts.

Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bar Council of India at Vigyan Bhavan, he said that as the Indian economy expanded globally there were newer challenges for the legal fraternity.

"Our legal luminaries require a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of an interdependent 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."

He said the legal fraternity now has to deal with new types of cases and areas relating to "conflict resolution".

"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.

Voicing expressed concern at the growing number of pending cases, Singh asked lawyers to find ways to tackle the problem. "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."

Singh said the government and the legal fraternity could join hands to facilitate implementation of the rural job scheme and the speedy disposal of cases.

"I would urge members of the legal fraternity to facilitate the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to empower marginalised sections of the society," he said.

"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 countrymen…."

Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir underlined the need for speedy disposal of cases in his address. He said alternative disputes resolutions like lok adalats and arbitration could go a long way in reducing pending cases in courts.

He cited the example of Madhya Pradesh which, he said, disposed of 26 lakh cases through lok adalats on a single day last year. "You will not believe it but it is true," he said.