The 10th meeting of the Ministers of Law and Justice of SCO countries was convened via video conferencing, where several key initiatives and cooperative efforts were discussed. During this meeting, India reaffirmed its commitment to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) by extending support to member countries in enhancing their legal and judicial capabilities.
A Cordial Beginning
The meeting commenced in a cordial atmosphere with a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who emphasized the importance of cooperation and understanding among SCO members. President Xi called for the realization of SCO’s objectives and visions, aiming to optimize the organization’s contribution to the holistic development of the region.
India’s Commitment to SCO Charter
Indian Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal reiterated India’s commitment to the SCO charter, which is based on principles such as mutual trust, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and mutual benefit. He cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of India as a “universal friend” and highlighted the importance of trust in government policies and practices.
Legal Reforms in India
Minister Meghwal provided insights into India’s ongoing legal reforms, with a primary focus on simplifying laws and reducing the burden of outdated legislation. India has already repealed 1,486 archaic laws, with more identified for removal. These reforms aim to improve citizens’ lives and create a more favorable environment for businesses.
Promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution
India is actively promoting “Alternative Dispute Resolution” methods and encouraging citizens to embrace mediation for conflict and dispute resolution. This approach seeks to expedite legal processes and reduce the backlog of cases.
Modernizing Legal and Judicial Systems
The Indian government acknowledges the need for legal and judicial systems to evolve in tandem with changing societal realities. Minister Meghwal highlighted recent initiatives aimed at replacing colonial-era laws, such as the Indian Penal Code (1860), Indian Evidence Act (1872), and Criminal Procedure Code (1898). These replacements draw inspiration from traditional legal knowledge while addressing modern India’s needs.
Digital Data Protection
India expressed its deep commitment to digital data protection and urged SCO member countries to prioritize this issue. The ministers resolved to work together to protect digital data and develop a safe and secure global digital ecosystem.
SCO’s Focus and Priorities
The SCO, founded in 2001, has traditionally focused on regional security issues, combating regional terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious extremism. In recent years, its priorities have expanded to include regional development.
Joint Statement Emphasizes Cooperation
During the meeting, all ministers of justice from SCO member countries signed a joint statement emphasizing cooperation in the field of law and justice. The statement called for enhanced collaboration in legal and judicial spheres, including organizing conferences and legal cooperation fora to facilitate the exchange of experiences.
Continuation of Expert Working Groups
The joint statement highlighted the importance of continuing the work of Expert Working Groups on forensic expertise and legal services.
The meeting concluded with the announcement that the next meeting of SCO Ministers for Law and Justice will be held in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2024.