Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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15-12-2004 : Jodhpur
Legal System for the National Development

I am delighted to be here and interact with the students and faculty members of the National Law University. My greetings to the Vice-Chancellor, faculty members and the students of the University on this occasion. I congratulate the Vice-Chancellor and faculty members for their contribution in shaping the young minds to achieve excellence in legal studies.


Leadership profile

Leadership for the first vision of the nation to achieve independence was given by the legal community, which was in the forefront of the movement. As you are aware, India has a vision of transforming into a developed nation by the year 2020. I would like to suggest the future lawyers and Faculty members assembled here to think in what type of leadership they can give for the second vision of the nation, which is transforming India into a developed nation. The topic I have selected for discussion today is : Legal system for national development.

Transformation of India into a developed nation requires contribution from various sections of the society, particularly from the legal community. The administration of law and justice should take into account the overall impact of the judgements on the process of societal transformation and welfare of the citizens at large. The rate of change of national development is directly proportional to the functional efficiency of the legal system and the quality of judgement.


Judicial system

Law and judiciary have a very crucial role to play in the development and evolution of a society. Law essentially plays the balancing role by resolving conflicts and ensuring justice and fair play when new opportunities and challenges are opening up in the developing society. In the earlier phase of Indian history, the laws formulated were basically catering to maintain the then prevailing social order, good morality and upliftment of all segments of the society. Later, the spirit and tradition of democracy which was present at the grassroots of Indian society, paved the way for establishing the supremacy and paramount importance of the rule of law. It is on this foundation that our democracy has flourished. Law has been viewed by us as an instrumentality for the good of the people and the well-being of the society. With time, the social system has gradually become more and more complex. In the present period, such complexities have further grown rapidly with modern industrialization, surge in population and resultant increase in scarcity of natural resources, providing new challenges for the legal system.

Today we have well-conceived laws in areas which were earlier unheard of. Some of them were unimaginable in the previous centuries. We already have Laws of the Sea, Laws of Air and Laws on Environment. The Intellectual Property Laws and Cyber Laws are getting refined. New scientific and technological knowledge like bio-technology, brain research, sensors and high performance computing systems have come into operation; laws to balance the interest of the people of today and the technological progress have to be brought about. We must remember that in the case of human life, the past meets the present and creates a future. This holds equally true for law and legal institutions. Law is not a static body of rules but is an organic body of principles capable of growth and evolution. But for any law to be universally acceptable it must rest on the premise of common welfare. I would request you, students of Law to keep this in mind while you are on the threshold of entering into the legal profession.


Majesty of Law and justice

Every citizen in the country has a right to live with dignity; every citizen has a right to aspire for distinction. Availability of a large number of opportunities to resort to just and fair means in order to attain that dignity and distinction, is what democracy is all about. That is what our Constitution is all about. And that is what makes life wholesome and worth living in a true and vibrant democracy.

At this point, I would like to remind all of us that at social levels it is necessary to work for Unity of Minds. The increasing intolerance for views of others and increasing contempt about ways of lives of others or their religions or the expressions of these differences through lawless violence against people cannot be justified in any context. All of us have to work hard and do everything to make our behaviour civilised to protect the rights of every individual. That is the very foundation of the democratic values, which I believe is our civilisational heritage and the very soul of our nation. Nobility is the foundation of the legal system and it is the responsibility of every component of the legal system to preserve it. Please think and think. In the present day environment can the judiciary and the legal community be the pioneers in evolution of nobility in justice.


Laws driven by National Priorities

Opportunities for rapid industrial and economic growth today co-exist with new problems arising out of trade competition and corporate mergers and take-over. Many tiny and small sectors of industries and even artisan goods will be facing the forces of modernization in the form of market forces, technologies and other forms of public information system including advertisements. There are major issues of protecting the local and global environment. Let us look at science and technology which has emerged as a strong force during the current period of human history. Basically science and technology is driven by human curiosity and reasoning and in its best sense aimed at spreading benefits to all people. They are basically universal in outlook. Similarly, laws are meant to protect people, their rights and make them feel secure in the society. I think this is the common meeting ground of Law, Science and Technology, People and Society. Legal instruments must maximize the benefits for our people and nation. Laws must protect the indigenous technologies and trade to the extent they impact peoples living and their welfare as well as ensure national interest.


Restrictive laws by Developed Countries

Many developed countries have made laws to restrict or deny export of certain class of state-of-the-art goods and technologies, in selective manner, to developing countries even while making international laws which make it mandatory for the developing countries to open their markets to be accessed by foreign entities with very little restrictions. India has successfully faced such technology denial measures adopted by certain countries. When our laboratories needed certain type of alloy steel or super computers to develop indigenous systems, certain countries imposed ban on export of such alloy steel or computers to India. As soon as we succeeded in the development of that particular alloy steel or high performance computers, the ban on export of that steel or supercomputers was lifted. But such an unbalanced world order is something on which our legal luminaries may have to think, while framing our commitments to international treaties.

Legal community must play the balancing role so that our technological growth can continue to be beneficial to our people and nation, free from undue interferences or unfair practices by any party with vested interests, domestic or foreign. Industrially developed countries are trying to make laws and treaties to protect and promote their own national interests and priorities, instead of working for win-win partnerships. India should work for win-win situation even in business and trade with ethics and make many partners.


Information based Legal Advisory

We have to start the use of Information and communication Technology (ICT) in legal dispute resolution at the grass root level. I understand that there are a very large number of civil and criminal cases under the consideration are accumulating particularly in High Courts and District Courts. Pending cases in various courts leads to enormous mental stress, agony, hatred, loss of transparency and huge loss of earning & wastage of manpower and delay in the progress of national development. ICT tools can be used to create an electronic advisory system to assist the public / local agencies as reportedly made available in healthcare through Internet. Legal Mentoring and revitalizing village panchayat system through electronic connectivity to the Courts by using ICT will create human rights awareness among the common public.


Space, Cyber and Sea laws

I was studying the necessity of reviewing certain specific laws for protecting India?s wealth and strategic assets in space, cyber and sea and all of them combined together. I am sure when you become lawyers you have an important role to play in redefining these laws with reference to national security needs.

Space Law: As it is known all the communication satellites whether it is a civil or military have to be placed in the geo-synchronous orbit. A world body allots the slot in this orbit for all the users. In the geo-synchronous orbit there are certain strategic slot from which you can radiate to most part of the planet all the time. That provides additional wealth generation capability to certain users. Most of these slots have been occupied by the developed world. Of course India has got some slot for INSAT series.

Similarly the remote sensing satellites are put for recce as well as resource mapping in the Polar orbit. In addition there are large number of small satellites in the near earth orbit. In another two decades huge solar powered satellites (few kms in radius) will occupy the geo-synchronous orbit.

Particularly in times of conflict blocks of countries waging the war may create economic damage by switching off the transponders radiating to the enemy country. Their recce satellite could also be made ineffective electronically. An in-depth analysis is required to simulate and understand the probable situation and work out adequate legal safeguards to protect our interest.

Sea Law: India has a Sea Law. But the Sea has now become multi-dimensional. India?s marine wealth, transportation to and fro in the national international waters and territorial regions need an integrated look.

Sea has a wealth of marine life and inert products. It is necessary to protect deep sea oil, gas and mineral reserves apart from connecting sea bed resources. A thorough review is required to understand whether our national interests above the sea, on the sea and under the sea are fully protected. In addition we have noticed that our fisherman have a constant problem with our neighbours in the western and southern sector. This also requires a simplified and sound legal frame work between the countries.

Cyber Law: We have a cyber law in place which has been approved by the Parliament. When I was studying this law, I realized that this law needs change due to the following:

When India is electronically connected with all its economic assets, defense and national security establishments will be the target for cyber attacks during a conflict. In such a situation, the country can become the loser even without a missile or aircraft attack just through intelligent cyber war.

Hence it is essential to generate a simulation model of the connected economic and defense security system as a cyber / electronic network. This will reveal the need for the evolution of a new policy with redundancy and restriction of external connectivity of certain vital establishments.

Since our financial system is connected to world economic institutions such as World Bank we have to implement a robust encryption system for all our transactions through a national encryption policy. In addition cyber law has also to be integrated with the Information Security Policy such as BS17799 standards which specifies the protection mechanism of all information assets of the nation.

Economic prosperity by 2020 will also mean that many of the Indians will be doing business in the digital world on the web. In this new era, crime, law and justice will be completely different from the present. In the present law, for example, the jurisdiction will correspond to the location where the crime is committed and where the damage occurs - very often both being the same location. Whereas in the digital world, the crime may originate from a strange place even outside our own shores and may damage organizational wealth which will be in the digital form in multiple locations. In the 20th century, a nation's business transactions and wealth creation were based on transfer of materials (atoms) from one place to the other. In the 21st century wealth is created whenever information in the form of electrons is transferred across the networks in a borderless world. Indian judicial system has to build its capacity to define jurisdictions in a way that any crime committed against India or her assets by anyone from anywhere shall be punishable by Indian law. It may be true for other countries also. The legal community must enable formulation of progressive and innovative laws for the digital economy that will be one of the vital components of a developed nation.


Laws for new technologies

As you are aware new technologies are arising due to nano-technology, bio-technology and information technology and their convergence is taking place. Also in the medical area we are increasingly finding application of stem-cells as a curative process. In this area ethics are involved in the use of embryonic cells which have been found to be extremely efficient in curing certain diseases.

I am of the view that human cloning must be prohibited. However, cloning of human organs for repair is a noble human cause. In this direction stem cell research must be progressed. Recently, I came across an article in which the stem-cells recovered from the umbilical cord of a recently delivered mother has found to be a rich source of stem cells. This area is a fertile research ground for stem cell research community. Similarly in the nano-technology area there are many drug delivery systems which are being produced whose ethics are to be established. These problems have to be addressed by the legal community in collaboration with the medical community and other healthcare professionals to suggest laws for preventing its misuse.

Also there is a need to have a re-look at the Indian Human Organ Transplant Act of 1994 to make it donor friendly and more importantly patient friendly to help those who are in dire need.


Judiciary and Purity

A. I have studied the judiciary and legal process in the country. Every citizen wants purity in the system. My study indicates that there are several interfaces in the total system. They are

1. Political Leaders

2. Law makers ? MPs and MLAs

3. Judges ? Supreme Court, High court, Sub-ordinate courts

4. Police

5. Administration

6. Lawyers and Law School

7. Media

8. Citizens

B. What are the general expectations out of these interfaces seems to be?

1. Political leaders

Respect the law and do not use the processes of power to circumvent the law of the land. Political leaders should set an example for the civil society.

2. Law makers

Simplify the Law, discard irrelevant law. Make the system in such a way the dispensation of justice takes place and fast and fair.

3. Judges ? Supreme Court, High court, Sub-ordinate courts

Make truth prevail irrespective of the level of the stature of the affected parties. Speed of delivery of justice is crucial for the citizens. Create a mechanism for handling of societal crimes.

4. Police

Police system should function in a way that good citizens will have faith and nothing to be afraid of. They should not succumb to any external pressures in delivery of justice. They should protect honest officials in discharging the duties. Citizen should feel that they should come to seek help of the police.

5. Administration

Administration should be responsive, proactive and also innovative to keep pace with contemporary changes and expectations. Administrator should not become protector of powerful people.

6. Lawyers

Legal profession is not a mere business and is a noble profession to unfold truth. Therefore they should abide by the principles of professional ethics. Law school should engender such vales at the beginning.

7. Media

Media should remain vigilant but be careful and not prejudge issues or become sensational.

8. Citizens

Respect for others rights and also attempt to use the legal system for good purposes and not for petty, selfish ends or for power politics.



The present six billion people in our planet is likely to rise to about eight billion by 2020. Every human being in this planet has the right to live with dignity and has a right to aspire for distinction while retaining one's unique identity. The test of any legal framework depends on its capacity and efficacy to ensure social, economic and political justice for an individual not only in his individual capacity but also as a member of a nation or as a member of the global community. In other words, our individual and localized interests have to be harmonized within the larger pluralistic order so as to give primacy to human rights. It is necessary to work towards Unity of Minds. It is citizen's responsibility to do everything possible to make our behaviour civilized to protect the rights of every individual, without stamping out their individual characteristics and basic identity. For a peaceful human life, law and justice have to assist. If justice fails to protect human rights, the nation fails. It is the responsibility of each component of legal system to ensure that these elements of rights, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity become available to all. I would suggest the National Law University, Jodhpur to generate a data-base of 50 typical criminal judgements and 50 typical civil judgements from High Courts and Supreme Court. This should be put on the National Law University web site. There should be a few classes and discussions to analyse and debate the effect of these judgements on the individual, society and national development. I consider that this practical experience will re-inforce the knowledge base of future lawyers and legal experts and empower them to excel in their profession. When you graduate from this University, you are carrying with you expertise in the field of law and also certain value system imparted by the teachers and the environment of the academy. The success in your profession will be dependent on your professional integrity and nobility in all your endeavours. My best wishes to all of you in your mission of safeguarding the rights of our citizens.

May God bless you.


Questions and Answers Session

Q1. Mr. President the politics of our country has been corrupted by a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the criminals. Would Your Excellency suggest measures of cleaning the existent corruption?

- (Ms. Jaya Pandey VIII Semester)

Ans. I am asking the youth to take up a mission of promoting righteousness at their homes. If each one of you make the home righteous through love and affection we will definitely have corruption free society in few years. The points I made regarding Judiciary and Purity is intended for this purpose only. If our system follows these codes we will definitely be in a better position.

Q2. Mr. President Sir, there is an urgent need for having transparency in the appointment of the Judges for the High Courts and the Supreme Court, however even if there is a collegium of Judges to appoint there is a very little transparency. Would Your Excellency throw some light on this?

- (Ms. Heena Singh VI Semester)

Ans. System of collegium of Judges exists for the appointments of Judges for the High Court & Supreme Court. This system is being constantly reviewed so that transparency is brought about in its operation. Our Chief Justice is definitely making attempts to further improve the system. I am sending your suggestion to the Chief Justice of India.

Q3. Your Excellency, Your dream of seeing India as a developed Country within the next two decades is laudable, however 30% of our population is living below the poverty line. How do you envisage in your vision the upliftment of those who are living below the Poverty line in a classful society?

- (Ms.Anuradha Chanda,VI Semester.)

Ans. The whole concept of developed India 2020 is aimed to uplift the 260 million people living below the poverty line. It concentrates on five areas. Agriculture and Agro processing, Education and Health Care, ICT, infrastructure including water and power and critical technologies for strategic sector. Action is required to be taken in an integrated way in all the areas, so that the benefits reach the poor very fast. As part of this mission we have PURA mission for promoting rural prosperity through connectivity.

Q4. Mr. President, Our country is one where a major part of the population is living under the poverty line, keeping this in view, how wise it is for our country to concentrate on the development of the nuclear missiles when it may just increase poverty and hence hinder the development?

- (Ms. Kritika Venugopal IInd Semester, BA-LL.B.)

Ans. We need to have a safe border for carrying out our development tasks peacefully. Hence, we have to attain and maintain minimum military strength. Since, strength alone respects strengths. We are spending only less than three percent of our GDP towards Defence expenditure. Other countries spend much more. National Security and Economic Security must go in hand in hand. One cannot be separated from the other. When all the countries around us have weapons we cannot be silently watching. We have to prepare ourselves for any eventuality. However, our policy is ?no first use?.

Q5. Mr. President, U.S. is indulged in high power laser experiments in space, what are the conditions that is helping U.S. to carry these experiments only in space and not on land?

- (Ms. Reshma Khan, IV Semester, B.Sc. ?LL.B.)

Ans. We tested our nuclear systems underground. The high power laser system designed by US could be for space based systems. However, we should not encourage space test to disturb other spacecrafts. As a policy, planet earth must be safe and space war should be prohibited.

Q6. Mr. President Sir, how do you envisage that space technology, the proposed sending of a space ship to the moon for example, will help India in prospering economically?

- (Mr. Sameer Sah, VI Semeste, B.Sc.- LL.B.)

Ans. In 100 years oil, gas and coal will vanish from earth and our population will increase from six billion to eight billion. We will need mineral and energy. There are number of useful materials available from moon. Helium-3 from moon is a great source of energy. In few decades we may create space factory. Our moon mission will derive knowledge in all these areas. They will definitely be useful for our future economic prosperity.

Q7. Mr. President, as you are the executive head of the nation and also the supreme commander of the armed forces, is this any indication that our nation should move towards a Presidential form of democracy?

- (Arun Madhu, VI Semester, B.A.-LL.B.)

Ans. Our Constitution makers have carefully examined all aspects and brought out a constitution, which is enabling the smooth functioning of our Democratic system for the last five decades plus. We had many ups and downs during the last 54 years. We have withstood robustly. We are now a mature Democracy.

Q8. Mr. President Sir, co-relationship between technology as an input to economic growth requires sharpening of legal tools which is not only important but also imperative? Would Your Excellency impart some advise to the young law students and lawyers?

- (Nishant Kelwalramani, VIII Semester, B.Sc.-LL.B.)

Ans. This aspect, I have fully covered in my talk.

Q9. Mr. President Sir, in the context of the present day globalised world, is it not that government intervention and public sector are subordinated to the private sector? But at the same time, governmental and public sector responsibilities for social good cannot be underestimated. What is Your Excellency?s opinion on this?

- (Kunal Kumbhat, VIII Semester, B.Sc. LL.B.)

Ans. In a Globalized World, Government, Public Sector and Private Sector all have to work as partners to make the country economically competitive. No one is superior or inferior. All have to play their role. All of them must remember that Nation is above any individual or any organization.

Q10. Mr. President Sir, forensic sciences as a part of criminal investigation require sophisticated DNA technology. Would His Excellency kindly comment upon the possibility of establishing a DNA data bank in the country?

- (Abhijeet Sharma, VIII Semester, B.Sc.- LL.B.)

Ans. CCMB Hyderabad has created a DNA bank for carrying out Genetic Diversity Study of Indian population. DNA analysis is being done on case by case basis based on request by Police. Creating DNA bank for Criminology will need a new enactment.

Q.11. Why Indian Judicial Service is not being constituted on the lines of Indian Civil Service?

Ans. We have to think about it. I will refer this problem to the Chief Justice of India.

Q.12. Should we not reduce unnecessary expenditure on VIP visits?

Ans. You might have noticed a large chair was put on the dias. Now that chair has vanished. Similarly very soon unnecessary expenditure on non-productive things will vanish very soon.

Q.13.Should we not teach our citizens living in rural areas their rights and duties?

Ans. Since you are from the University of Law I would recommend all of you to visit the villages during holidays and teach at least four or five members about their rights and duties.




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