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New Delhi : Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, on behalf of Union Law & Justice  Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, represented India at the Commonwealth High Level Law Ministers’ Meeting on the Legal aspects of COVID-19.

The meeting, chaired by the Law Minister of Sri Lanka, was organised in virtual mode by Commonwealth Secretariat on February 18, 2021.The event provided an opportunity to the Law Ministers to share views and experiences on solutions to key legal challenges that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was focused on ensuring equal access to justice for all upholding the rule of law in the fight against COVID-19 and legal barriers to equitable access to essential medicine.

Addressing the meeting of Ministers of Law and Justice, Leaders of delegation and senior officials from Commonwealth countries,  Mendiratta highlighted several initiatives and relief measures taken by the Government of India under the  leadership of Prime Minister  Narendra Modi, inter-alia, to ensure affordable and easy access to justice for all. He highlighted that the giant leap in digitisation and technological innovations have become the mainstay of judicial proceedings during Covid times.

Attention was drawn towards the order passed by the Supreme Court of India on April 6, 2020, giving legal sanctity and validity to the court hearings done through video conferencing, which came as a big boost for timely disposal of litigations especially in cases which required urgent intervention of Courts and Tribunals. He further informed that the District Courts and High Courts in India heard 76.38 lakh cases and the Supreme Court heard nearly 52,353 cases till January 31, .202,1 through video conferencing only.

Law Secretary Mendiratte also informed about India undertaking the world’s largest vaccination programme and helping other countries under neighbourhood first policy by distributing indigenous vaccine :  Covishield and Covaxin. He pointed out that in the next fiscal, India proposes to increase its spending on healthcare from the current levels, according to a PIB release. He emphasised that ideas exchanged at this Commonwealth Forum shall be enriching and result in maximisation of benefits for the people across the world and a collaborative approach shall enable us to restore and rejuvenate the legal ecosystem.

The Ministers of Law and Justice and Leaders of delegation representing the Commonwealth countries adopted a statement after deliberations.