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The role of lawyers is not confined to courts: PM

May 17, 2010 13:01 IST

The role of lawyers extends to being an integral part of our system of administration of justice, and justice not just in the legal sense but justice that's social, economic and political as set out in the preamble of our Constitution, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

It gives me great pleasure to participate in the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bar Association of India. The association has always maintained very high standards of professional ethics and values. I applaud its achievements and congratulate all those who have been associated with it.

The Bar Association of India has a glorious history. It was inaugurated fifty years ago by the then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad, in the presence of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Chief Justice of India and many stalwarts of the legal profession whose names are held in the highest esteem even today. M C Setalvad, the first attorney general of India, was the first president of the association and together with the illustrious Dr K M Munshi and C K Daphtary and others framed its constitution.

At the inaugural function, Nehru had said: "All these new problems ... can be decided certainly, as far as lawyers are concerned, by specialised training and also by a certain amount of wisdom and a certain understanding of those problems, apart even from their judicial significance, because life is an integrated thing. You cannot separate it in compartmentsĀ -- some part of life meant only for lawyers and judges and some other part meant for somebody else. That is not so. In real life, they all overlap and, in a changing phase of society, it becomes so necessary to have some integrated understanding of these various developments so as to be able to deal with it." With great humility and reverence, I echo the same sentiments.

The role of lawyers is not confined to courts alone or advising clients in business deals. It extends to being an integral part of our system of administration of justice, and justice not just in the legal sense but justice that's social, economic and political as set out in the preamble of our Constitution.

Lawyers in our country have historically contributed handsomely to each of these areas of justice -- whether it was the struggle for Independence, the framing of our Constitution or just governance. Even today, in the Cabinet, we have outstanding lawyers some of whom have been members of this illustrious association.

The Bar Association of India, too, has a larger objective beyond the furtherance of professional interests. It aims at promoting public and national welfare in manifold directions and upholding the Constitution of India and the rule of law. One of the most outstanding features of the activities of this association is its commitment to society, especially the less privileged sections. It is gratifying to note that it has contributed significantly at the time of natural and man-made calamities like the Latur and Bhuj earthquakes and the tsunami. The association also performed yeoman services in providing legal aid to families of martyrs in the Kargil war. The theme of this conferenceĀ -- 'Law and Governance' - covers a complex relationship.

The deliberations in the conference will explore how the practice of law has evolved over time and its interplay with political, social and economic developments, the socio-legal processes that deter or provide access to justice and, above all, the necessary legal pre-requisites of good governance. I am told that one of the important sessions is devoted to law and separation of powers. The doctrine of 'separation of powers' is acknowledged as one of the basic features of our Constitution.

It is also commonly agreed that all the three organs of the state, ie, the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Executive, are bound by and subject to the provisions of the Constitution, which demarcates their respective powers, jurisdictions, responsibilities and relationship with one another. I hope there will be meaningful discussions in the conference on this and other important subjects like funding of elections and law and education.

(Excerpts from the speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bar Council of India in New Delhi on May 8, 2010)

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