Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & IT launched three key legal aid initiatives of the Department of Justice – including ‘Pro bono legal services’, ‘Tele law service’ and ‘Nyaya Mitra scheme’.
Legal Aid Initiatives | Significance
- The three initiatives were aimed at fulfilling the department’s core mandate of enhancing ‘access to justice’for the poor and vulnerable communities, including making accessible quality and effective legal aid for them.
- The initiatives launched by the department are to supplement the efforts of NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) and not to overlap the activities undertaken by the legal services authorities.
Pro bono legal Services
- The ‘Pro bonolegal services’ initiative is a web based platform, through which interested lawyers can register themselves to volunteer pro bono services for the underprivileged litigants, who are unable to afford it.
- The Department of Justice has launched the online application for this initiative on its website gov.in. Through this online portal, litigants from marginalised communities (including members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women, children, senior citizens, persons with low income and persons with disabilities) can also apply for legal aid and advice from the pro bono lawyers.
Legal Aid Initiatives | Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centre
- The Department of Justice and NALSA are partnering with CSC- E- Governance Service Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalized communities through the Common Service Centers (CSCs).
- This initiative, called ‘Tele Law’, is aimed at facilitating delivery of legal advice through an expert panel of lawyers – stationed at the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA). The project would connect lawyers with clients through video conferencing facilities at CSCs, operated by para legal volunteers. For this purpose, this initiative would also play a pivotal role in empowering 1000 women para legal volunteers.
Legal Aid Initiatives | Engagement of Nyaya Mitra
- The Nyaya Mitra scheme, which is aimed at reducing pendency of cases across selected districts, with special focus on those pending for more than 10 years.
- Functionalized through a retired judicial or executive officer (with legal experience) designated as the ‘Nyaya Mitra’, the project would be operated out of District Facilitation Centres, housed in CSCs. Nyaya Mitra’s responsibilities would include among others assistance to litigants who are suffering due to delay in investigations or trial, by actively identifying such cases through the National Judicial Data Grid, providing legal advice and connecting litigants to DLSA, CSC Tele Law, other government agencies and civil society organisations.
- He/she shall also refer the marginalized applicants to Lok Adalats for dispute resolution and render assistance towards prison reforms within the district, in coordination with the district judiciary and other stakeholders.
This initiative would be launched in 227 districts including 27 districts from North East and Jammu & Kashmir and 200 districts from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, West Bengal etc. and would be operated out of CSCs.