ISLAMABAD: Minister for Law and Justice Senator Farogh Naseem Tuesday discussed setting up legal aid mechanism for the poor and vulnerable at a meeting of Joint Inter-Ministerial Committee.
The committee discussed draft legal aid mechanism for the poor and vulnerable section of society. Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Rabiya Javeria Agha apprised the committee about legal aid mechanism in the 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 in India, there is a structure of legal aid and services consisting of the 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 was 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 criterion for the entitlement of legal/aid services to make it more accessible to the deserving.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akber discussed the means and merit criteria to extend legal aid to the poor. He said that 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.
Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akber and Parliamentary Secretary Barrister Maleeka Bukhari attended the meeting.