Legal Aid Mechanism with Central Statutory Authority to Help Poor and Vulnerable Needed: Senator Farogh Naseem

Islamabad, October 09, 2018 (PPI-OT): Minister for Law and Justice, Senator Farogh Naseem convened a meeting of Joint Inter Ministerial Committee on setting up legal aid mechanism for the poor and vulnerable at the Ministry of Law and Justice on Tuesday. Federal Minister for Human Rights, Ms. Shireen Mazari and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mr. Shehzad Akber attended the meeting. The Committee discussed draft legal aid mechanism for poor and vulnerable section of society. Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, Ms. Rabiya Javeria Agha apprised the committee about legal aid mechanism in United Kingdom and India.

She apprised the participants that in UK a Legal Aid Agency under the Lord Chancellor provides legal aid to the poor while India there is a structure of legal aid and services consisting of Chief Justice of Supreme Court, state, district and sub-divisional legal aid service authorities. Dr. Farogh Naseem stressed the need for adopting a suitable model with central statutory authority with implementation bodies in the Provinces.

He agreed with the Committee Members that there is a need for a Pakistan Specific legal aid mechanism for the poor to cater to the needs of poor and needy in Pakistan. He also said there should be a criteria for the entitlement of legal/aid services to make it more accessible to the deserving. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mr. Shehzad Akber discussed the means and merit criteria to extend legal aid to poor.

He said legal aid should not only be extended to people struck by abject poverty but also to those who belong to lower middle class and don’t have enough means to defend themselves. Participants agreed that there is a need for employed lawyers to provide legal assistance to the needy and a centralized law for disbursement of legal aid would be significant in this regard. Parliamentary Secretary Barrister Maleeka Bukhari was also in attendance during the meeting.

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