Successful 6-week legal awareness campaign, received government support: Justice UU Lalit

Recently, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) organized a six-week marathon campaign for legal aid awareness. During the 42 days between October 2 and November 14, teams of legal officers, judges, lawyers, visited every nook and cranny of the country, to conduct public awareness campaigns and programs. for legal awareness.

India Today TV spoke with Judge UU Lalit, Executive Chairman of NALSA, about the campaign and future plans to ensure that awareness of the laws and rights reaches the last man.

To read: Law students can opt for internships, according to judge Uday Umesh Lalit

Q: You have organized a six week awareness program. You have visited 13 states. Did this program meet the expectations with which it was launched?

A: When we started this program, we decided to reach every village in India at least three times. There should be an imprint. We have six lakh villages in the country. Thousands of teams are ready in every state. Over 70 crore people have been contacted. This is an achievement in itself.

Q: What would you consider to be a “success story” of this campaign?

A: There are many success stories – I have visited several places such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We have met people with disabilities. We contacted people with intellectual disabilities. Whatever right is granted to them, they have been made aware of it and it has been granted to them.

For example, in Kanyakumari, people belonging to the third sex community were denied the right to be buried in the community cemetery. The Kanyakumari District Legal Services Authority helped them secure land that will now be their cemetery. These are the kinds of things that are achievements.

Q: At the farewell ceremony, a program was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Development for children with disabilities on November 14th. What help will be given to them?

A: Families with mentally disabled children tend to keep them locked up in their homes. Parents see them as a handicap. They are confined to their homes. They are not accepted. We make people aware that mental disabilities can be remedied. Timely medical treatment can help. If you put a specially disabled child in a room in the school, he will not develop. There must be an inclusive setup for education. So that they can assimilate into ordinary society. That is why we called on disabled children from Tripura to participate in the Vigyan Bhawan event.

Education with normal children helps them learn and blend in with society. It also helps normal children to discover and assimilate disabled children. Training and financial assistance will be provided. States have their own regimes. We will make sure children get their right

Q: An awareness and assistance program for women in Varanasi has also been launched. What type of assistance will be granted to women in this context?

A: In the program launched with the National Commission for Women, women who need help need to be located and trained in remote areas. We train the teachers – who will then disseminate the information to other women.

Q: You also announced that law students will adopt talukas for legal aid. What is being done with this program and what type of response have you seen from law schools that have already signed up to the program?

A: Even in our local outreach program, students participated with officials and activists. They will be the torchbearers. Law schools will adopt three talukas. Fourth and fifth year law students will regularly visit villages as Paralegal Volunteers (PLVs) to communicate with legal aid applicants. This will give us an additional new crop of trained PLVs. When they become lawyers, they will be trained to see the psychological state of legal aid applicants.

Q: You have used technology to expand these campaigns. At the inaugural ceremony, Judge DY Chandrachud also mentioned the use of AI-based chatbots for legal aid. What kind of contribution has the use of technology made? What more will we see in legal aid services?

A: During the Covid pandemic, we used virtual technologies and platforms. Lok Adalats works by putting the two parties in communication. How do you relate to people sitting in different states? We used virtual platforms to connect. More than 29 lakh cases were settled in July. Thanks to the physical format, we previously reached around 14 lakh cases. Initially we thought it might be an anomaly, but in September 42 lakh cases were heard.

Another policy we have is for prisoners. For imprisoned detainees, it is important to contact lawyers and family members. It is not possible in the physical world unless people can go to the prison to visit. We launched a prototype system in Nagpur with four interfaces where an imprisoned man can contact his lawyer, family and legal aid office all at once. This app was developed by an engineer who was imprisoned in Gurgaon prison. From now on, this virtual platform is present in all the prisons of Haryana. Our app is there to access legal aid, court cases, all information regarding case data, compensation, etc.

Q: It was a concentrated six week campaign. What about the next few months? What programs / campaigns will NALSA be undertaking in the coming months?

A: After talking with the state legal aid authorities, we implemented this awareness program. The idea was to test everything we could do. Prison reform is a major area. We have a lady on the NALSA board who is a psychologist. She researched the mental state of prisoners. We need to train lawyers and PLVs. We are in contact with a first law research module which has agreed to provide us with a virtual library which will be installed in all neighborhoods. Need to equip district legal services to make them more efficient

Q: Has NALSA received the necessary cooperation from the government?

A: We have received cooperation from all governments so far. When we launched the awareness campaign, we decided that there would be information about legal aid services in every village and district post office. Each post office now has signs. Union ministries helped set up commissions in all police stations.

Q: You said in a speech that less than 1% of people use legal aid. What steps need to be taken to improve the situation?

A: This 1% figure is related to litigation in court. Lack of awareness is one of the reasons. Or they (people who do not use legal aid) do not have enough confidence in legal aid. The awareness program aims to increase awareness. The second stage is also simultaneous. We need to improve legal aid services. There has to be better training. It is necessary to involve good established lawyers to appear pro bono in cases, law students must be inducted. When we do all of this it will get better.

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