Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Feb 28:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today announced setting up of legal assistance cells at gram panchayat level to improve access to the justice delivery system to the poor and the underprivileged.
On the sidelines of Biju Janata Dal’s first state-level Legal Front Convention held at Bali Yatra ground on the banks of river Mahanadi near Barabati Fort here, Chief Minister announced the formation of legal assistance cell ‘Madhu Babu Ayeen Sahayata Kendra’ and three-fold hike in Lawyers’ Welfare Fund.
“…The intended benefits must reach the poor and the needy. The BJD, in its election manifesto, had declared to open legal assistance cell in each gram panchayat to improve access to the justice delivery system to the poor and the underprivileged. We will set up legal assistance cells to provide an enabling environment for the legal empowerment of our people. I am privileged to announce the initiative to provide access to legal assistance which will be named after our great legal luminary Madhusudan Das as ‘Madhu Babu Ayeen Sahayata Kendra’ and this initiative will be functional in coming years,” Naveen Patnaik said.
The legal assistance cells will offer services once a week and is likely to be operational from next year, sources said.
The chief minister also announced three-fold increase in the Lawyers’ Welfare Fund.
“The advocates’ welfare fund plays an important role in supporting advocates in time of needs. The state government will be providing a matching grant for Rs 1 crore towards this. I am happy to announce that we are proposing to increase this grant from Rs 1 crore to Rs 3 crore per annum. I am sure this will come in handy for the advocates in need of medical aid,” Patnaik announced.
In addition to this, Patnaik also announced setting up of Law University in the state for improving the standards of legal education in the state.
“My government is seriously contemplating establishment of Law University to strengthen the functioning of law colleges in the state. This will be a milestone in improving the quality of legal education in our state. Our government has taken several measures to improve the legal infrastructure and establishment of new courts. As all of you know one of the decisions of the last Cabinet was to establish the Law Commission. This will have a far-reaching impact on the enactment of new laws and fine-tuning of existing laws for the benefit of our people,” he added.
While around 10, 000 lawyers affiliated to nearly 160 associations were expected to participate in the conference, at least 7, 000 lawyers participated in it.