Thursday, April 25, 2024

NALSA empowering people by raising awareness about legal rights, helping in their actual realisation: Justice DY Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India Designate and Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has said that NALSA was empowering people by raising awareness about legal rights and helping them in actual realisation of these rights.

Justice Chandrachud expressed these views, while virtually launching the two flagship campaigns of NALSA, titled ‘Empowerment of Citizens through Legal Awareness and Outreach’ and ‘Haq_Humara_Bhi_To_Hai@75’ on Monday.   

He said NALSA was a means to realise the constitutional ambition of providing social, economic, and political justice to everyone in India. Its aim was not just limited to providing legal aid, rather the statutory body focused on empowering people to effectively seek their legal entitlements within the four corners of legal system. 

To further its vision of creating an inclusive legal system, so as to secure fair and meaningful justice for people belonging to marginalised communities of the society, NALSA has been taking active steps to work at the grass-roots level of the society and develop human capabilities, added the CJI-designate. 

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He said the vision of these two week Pan India campaigns was to work right at the grassroot level and build capacity of the incapacitated.

As per Justice Chandrachud, these nationwide public awareness campaigns will be carried out for a period of two weeks, till November 13, 2022. 

As part of campaign, Empowerment of Citizens through Legal Awareness and Outreach, the outreach teams will visit every village panchayat and sub divisions of the villages throughout the country and raise legal awareness about issues relevant to the people such as the fundamental rights and duties enshrined under the Constitution, labour laws, gender justice, among others.

Talking about the second campaign, Haq_Humara_Bhi_Toh_Hai@75, he said it aimed at providing basic legal assistance to the undertrial prisoners and children in conflict with law. 

Under this, district teams formulated by District Legal Services Authorities will visit prisons and child care institutions to interact with individual undertrial prisoners and children in conflict with law.

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 Through such interactions, the teams will not only ascertain if the concerned individual is represented by a lawyer, but also provide free legal counselling and assistance, including drafting and filing appropriate legal applications. The district teams will also ascertain the needs of the concerned individual and ensure that they are in contact with their family and friends during the course of their imprisonment, he added.

Talking about inmates, the CJI-designate said for many prisoners, the process itself became punishment due to the difficulties in obtaining bail, which invariably prolonged their imprisonment.

There were cases of undertrial prisoners losing their invaluable right to default bail simply because they had no information with respect to the status of their charge sheets.

Even if the prisoners were able to secure bail, they were often unable to furnish the necessary bail bonds to secure their freedom, he pointed out. 

He further highlighted the plights of female undertrial prisoners, stating that a large number of women were languishing in prisons across India for want of proper legal support.

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Illiteracy and lack of financial resources often serve as a barrier for them to understand the legal complexities of approaching a lawyer and enforcing their rights. Similarly, children in conflict of law also require special care and attention, he added.

The Supreme Court Judge said there was no doubt that the instrumentalities involved in the criminal justice system, including the police, judiciary and lawyers have been doing their bit to resolve the plight of undertrial prisoners in India. However, NALSA can play an effective role in alleviating the plight of the prisoners by becoming their voice and empowering them to seek proper legal recourse, he observed.

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The Executive Chairman of NALSA expressed his gratitude to the members of State and District Legal Services Authorities, along with the judicial officers, panel lawyers, law students, para legal volunteers, social workers, anganwadi workers and others working towards the cause of legal aid, saying that without their untiring efforts, this could never have become possible.
NALSA was constituted on November 9, 1995 under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.


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