Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said on Sunday that police stations pose the “highest threat” to human rights and dignity, which are ‘sacrosanct’. The threat to human rights and bodily integrity is the highest in police stations and going by recent reports, even the privileged are not spared third-degree treatment,” the Chief Justice said. Custodial torture and police atrocities still prevail despite constitutional guarantees, he said.
The CJI is also the Patron-in-Chief of NALSA. He said that to keep police excesses in check, dissemination of information about the constitutional right to legal aid and availability of free legal aid services is necessary. The installation of display boards and outdoor hoardings in every police station/prison is a step in this direction, he said, adding that NALSA must also actively carry out nationwide sensitisation of police officers.
The mobile App will help poor and needy people in applying for legal aid and seek victim compensation. NALSA was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. The CJI said that for becoming a society governed by the rule of law, it was necessary to bridge the gap of accessibility to justice between the highly privileged and the most vulnerable .
He said that the prevailing obstacles like internet connectivity and lengthy, painstaking and expensive justice processes add to the woes of realising the goals of access to justice in India.
Majority of those who do not have access to justice are from rural and remote areas which suffer from lack of connectivity. I have already written to the government emphasising the need to bridge the digital divide on a priority basis, the CJI said, referring to the digital divide between the rural and the urban populace.
He suggested that the postal network can be utilised to spread awareness regarding the availability of free legal aid services and to increase the outreach of legal services to persons residing in far-flung areas of the country.
The CJI asked lawyers, especially seniors, to help those needing legal assistance and urged the media to use its unparalleled capacity to spread the message of service of NALSA.