Chief Justices from eight different countries, attending the first regional conference on access to legal aid hosted by the National Legal Services Authority in India, gathered today in Court No.1 of the Supreme Court joining the bench led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud.

The CJI along with Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra welcomed the Chief Justices from the Africa-Asia-Pacific countries of the Global South. The CJI before commencing the proceedings in the Court stated, "Members of the Bar, I have very great pleasure in welcoming the Chief Justices who have come from overseas for the international conference. We welcome our colleagues from the Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Cameron, Botswana and Ghana. So on behalf of the members of the bar, I have the pleasure of welcoming all of you to our Court."

The Chief Justices representing varied legal systems and cultural backgrounds, assumed their seats alongside the Chief Justice of India to observe the court proceedings for about an hour. The other dignitaries also attended different benches of the Supreme Court and observed the proceedings.

The International Conference being held in India involves the participation of approximately 345 participants from 69 Africa-Asia Pacific countries of the Global South, in addition to the host country India, comprising Hon'ble the Chief Justices, concerned Ministers /Secretaries of the Ministry/ Departments connected with Justice programmes, Heads of the National Legal Aid Institutions, and experts in the field of Access to Justice.

According to the press release issued by NALSA, the conference seeks to address the challenges and opportunities associated with ensuring access to high-quality legal aid services for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

"This Conference will highlight regional efforts to implement the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems and to further the Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The objective of this regional conference is to give a platform to the participating countries of the Global South to facilitate sharing of information and best practices on strengthening the delivery of legal aid services. The conference aims at encouraging participants to develop concrete, action-orientation plans to address challenges related to the provision of legal aid services in their countries", stated NALSA.

Recently, the Chief Justice of Kenya Justice Martha K. Koomehad sat along with the Chief Justice-led Constitution Bench hearing the cases related to the Maharashtra political crisis. The CJI had welcomed Justice Martha and had stated, "the least of whose achievements is that she is the first woman chief justice of the country".