By Staff Reporter
The 10th meeting of the Ministers of Law and Justice of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries was held today via video conferencing. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Law and Justice Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal emphasised on India’s commitment to the SCO charter and its principles of mutual trust, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and mutual benefit. The Minister said this commitment is based on Prime Minister of India’s vision that “India has emerged as Viswa Mitra (Universal friend) and India’s greatest strength is trust, our trust in each individual, trust of each individual in government, trust of each one in a bright future for the nation, and world’s faith in India as well. This trust is for our policies and practices.”
The Minister highlighted how India has embarked on a path of Legal reforms- the cornerstone of which is simplification of laws and reducing the piled-up load of old laws and enactments which are no longer in use with the passage of time and thus have become obsolete. 1486 such laws have already been repealed and more such archaic laws are being identified. This would go a long way in improving the lives and living for citizens besides easing the doing of business in India. As part of this, the government is also actively promoting ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ and encouraging the citizens to adopt’ mediation’ as a mainstay for conflict and dispute resolution.
The Minister also said that the body of law and legal process in a country need to be in sync with the changing realities of any society. Keeping this in view, the government of India has taken steps towards making some epoch-making changes in its legal and judicial systems.
The Minister informed the members about the recent initiatives taken by the Government to usher in reforms in the criminal justice system by contemporizing those laws relating to criminal jurisprudence which have their origin in the colonial era, like the Indian Penal Code(1860), Indian Evidence Act ( 1872) and Criminal Procedure Code (1898) and replacing them with laws which while drawing inspiration from fountain of our traditional and ancient legal knowledge are tuned to the needs and realities of modern and vibrant India.
Reaffirming India’s deepest concern and commitment to digital data protection, the Minister urged the member countries to dedicate themselves to the same and resolve to work towards protection of digital data and development of a safe and secure digital ecosystem worldwide.
SCO is an intergovernmental organisation founded in Shanghai in June 2001. Since its inception, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO’s priorities also include regional development.
The 10th meeting of the SCO Justice Ministers began in a cordial atmosphere with reading out of a message from President Xi Jingping of the People’s Republic of China.
President Xi, in his message, appealed to the members to work with a spirit of cooperation and understanding so as to realise the objectives and visions of the SCO and optimise its contribution towards the holistic development of the region.
A joint statement was signed by all the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member countries that emphasised on the cooperation in the field of law and justice achieved in the last 22 years among the Member countries. Emphasising the mutual understanding reached on the development of the legal systems of the SCO member states, taking into account the agreements and tasks envisaged in the SCO development strategy 2025, the Ministers of Law and Justice of the SCO Member States through the Joint Statement declared the following:
- To cooperate between Ministries of Law and Justice of SCO Member nations to enhance cooperation in legal and judicial spheres.
- Continue to work on the implementation of the Co-operation Agreement
- Organise conferences, legal cooperation fora etc for better exchange of experience
- Continue the work of the Expert Working Groups on Forensic Expertise and Legal Services.
It was decided to hold the next meeting of SCO Ministers for Law and Justice in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2024.