The Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member States was hosted by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice, Communication and Electronics & Information Technology on 16th October, 2020.
Minister of Law and Justice of the Republic of India Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. M.B. Beketayev, Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Tang Yijun, Minister of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. M. T. Dzhamankulov, Authorized representative of the Ministry of Law and Justice of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Ms. Ambreen Abbasi, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Mr. K. A. Chuichenko, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. M.K. Ashriyon, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan Mr. R.K. Davletov, participated in the Justice Ministers’ Meeting. The Keynote address and Closing Remarks in the Justice Ministers’ meeting were delivered by Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice.
Addressing the august gathering of Ministers of Justice from SCO Member States, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Law & Justice, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology highlighted the initiatives taken by the Indian Government under the visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for providing affordable and easy access to justice for all.
He mentioned initiating Pro Bono Legal Services to provide free legal aid to marginalized sections of the society. He highlighted that through Tele-Law services initiated in 2017, so far 3.44 Lakh free legal consultations have been given to poor people through video conferencing. He also highlighted e-Courts projects with Video-Conferencing facility and rolling out of Virtual Courts, as part of Government’s successful transformative change in process automation from the conventional brick and mortar court architecture. During COVID19 pandemic over 25 Lakh hearing through video conference have taken place at various courts of India, out of which 9,000 virtual hearings have taken place at the Supreme Court alone. He apprised the gathering of the high priority, the Government has given to frame business facilitating laws and rules, including Commercial Courts Act and Arbitration Laws with a view to make India a preferred destination for investment and business.
As part of activities of Justice Ministers’ Forum, Minister urged SCO Member States to promote exchange of ideas, best practices and experiences in identified areas through the platform. He also stressed on widening the spectrum of activities being undertaken in the Forum, in particular and SCO in general.
Earlier, the Experts Working Group of SCO Member States discussed the importance of promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanism as also cooperation in all spheres including legal, given the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States deliberated on areas of cooperation; emphasized the high relevance of mutual exchange of legal information on counteraction to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and acknowledged the need for cooperation in ADR mechanism area, among others. A Joint Statement following the Results of the Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States was also adopted.
The salient features of the Joint Statement are as under:
1. To strengthen the work on implementation of the Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministries of Justice of the SCO Member States (Dushanbe, 18 August 2015).
2. To continue the work on implementation of the Action Plans of the working groups of experts on forensic activities and legal services for 2018-2020, as well as to develop Action Plans for 2021-2023.
3. Consider organizing exchange programs for representatives of the ministries (law and justice of the SCO member-states) to study the best practices in alternative dispute resolution.
4. To continue discussing the parties’ positions on the issues of mutual legal assistance and development of legal services in accordance with national legislation.
5. Actively develop cooperation with the ministries of justice of the SCO observer and dialogue partner states.
6. Continue efforts to develop an online platform for the exchange of legal information, taking into account national laws.
The Ministers of (Law and) Justice and senior officials / experts from the Ministries of Law & Justice of India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the three days deliberations. This Ministerial meeting was preceded by officer level deliberations. Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice also hosted the Second meeting of the Experts Working Group on 13th and 14th October, 2020. The meetings were conducted through Video Conferencing mode.