YOUNG LAWYERS, N.G.Os & LEGAL AID: TODAY’S NEED

Sagarmay N. Banerjee,
Advocate, Jharkhand High Court
& President cum Chairperson,
Minerva Cultural, Educational & Welfare Society,
“Aashiyana”, Bank Colony, Kokar ,Ranchi-1.

Youth characterizes a vibrant human resource as it is full of energy, courage and idealism. On the downside youth also indulges in taking risks, experimenting with life as well as their profession. In the last few years, a large number of young persons have come forward and selected the legal profession and no surprise, they are getting much respect. This is a new trend in the history of legal profession. In the complicated field of law, it was not easy for the young generation to make their place. The mindset of the young generation in the Indian society, their concerns and their circumstances of life have been getting harder and harder. People’s sensitivity, therefore has been getting more and more stronger and vocal. The youth section is meeting their challenges by themselves and has come to rely on themselves better than before. On the one hand, while the concern from the present system has broken, on the other, the participation of the young lawyers in solving the problems through ADR system is also increasing. In this situation, it has become necessary to dwelve upon the youth mindset, their role in the legal profession and the challenges before them. The young Lawyers can emphasise their skill in speedy trial & making a friendly relationship with their clients and thus can play an important role in spreading legal awareness properly.

Similarly, the NGOs can play a vital role in the legal field too. The logo of Legal Services Authority is ‘access of justice to all’. To achieve that objective- to give aid to the poor and illiterate so that they will not be in a disadvantageous position – the Legal Services Authority has been born. What actually happens is that very often the poor illiterate mass has not been educated enough to exercise their right and therefore, what is imperative for every Legal Services Authority to bring the NGOs under one platform to organise Legal Literacy Camps-to make people aware of their rights which they can exercise under the Act, to come forward to avail the opportunities of law. The NGOs can arrange awareness camps in the rural areas as well as to provide “Free Legal Consultancy” to the Poor and needy persons and the number of such camps and their frequency has to be increased to educate the masses and impress upon them to devote their time and energy to constructive activities rather than indulge in wasteful avoidable litigation. For this, the NGOs can form separate unit or Legal Cells to spread the works and activities of Legal Services Authority. In these Legal Camps, the young Lawyers may contribute and participate.NGOs ARE COMMITTED TO THE SPIRIT OF DEVELOPMENT, PROGRESS AND GROWTH. The base template of the activities of NGOs is constructed on stellar leadership and individual performance at every level; the supporting pillars and foundations are a balance sheet, world – class levels of operating discipline, research and innovations in technology and focuses on community building.

The NGOs are poised to take on new challenges and move on to creating new and better legal opportunities for tomorrow to spread the awareness regarding Consumer Law, Right to information, rights of the prisoners, women laws, Human Rights, Environmental Law, Labour Laws, Matrimonial matters including family counselling etc and also work for the senior citizens.

The only solution to the problem of mounting arrears of cases is the Alternative Dispute Resolution System. This system will, however, would be effective only if everyone in the legal fraternity including lawyers; especially the young lawyers and judicial officers work in tandem. There is a perceptible change in the attitude of the young lawyers towards the legal aid and they are voluntarily coming forward to render free services and thus helping in reducing the pendency of cases to a great extent.The young lawyers feel great satisfaction in solving the problems rapidly and with a friendly approach towards their clients. Hon’ble Justice S.B.Sinha, on 5th December,2004 at Ranchi had correctly said that ADR is the only solution in the face of mounting arrears of cases in the regular courts and the young & fresh batch of lawyers would definitely assist the courts to overcome this problem and the problem would be settled at the pre litigation stage itself.

LEGAL AID: Our constitution promises equal justice to all citizens. The term ‘Legal Aid’ means and
includes providing legal advice, arbitration, counselling & conciliation and making available lawyers to those who are unable to pay fees for the legal services. It also means creation of legal awareness amongst people about their rights, duties and obligations; to ensure protection of legal and constitutional rights of the under privileged, poor & downtrodden, neglected and the indigent.

Free Legal service to an indigent prisoner or to one, who otherwise is disabled in securing legal assistance, was held to be the responsibility of the State under Article 21 and 39-A of the constitution of India by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Madhav Hayawadanrao Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978,SC 1548.

The court observed :where the prisoner is disabled from engaging a lawyer, on reasonable grounds such as indigence or in communicado situation, the court shall ,if the circumstances of the case, the gravity of the sentence, and the ends of justice, so require, assign competent counsel for the prisoner’s defence, provided the party does not object to that lawyer.

In Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar,AIR 1979,SC 1369, Justice P.N. Bhagawati held the right to free legal services to be an essential component of reasonable, fair and just procedure, for a person accused of an offence, and guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The State is under a constitutional mandate to ensure speedy trial and whatever is necessary for this purpose is has to be done by the State.

In Khatri v. State of Bihar,AIR 1981,SC 928 , Justice P.N. Bhagawati criticized the State in not providing free legal services to the needy and observed – The State may have its financial constraints and its priority in expenditure but the law does not permit any Government to deprive its citizens of constitutional rights on a plea of poverty. The concept of legal aid is thus well entrenched in the Indian Legal System and in order to give statutory recognition, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted by the parliament.

Being aware of the fact that poor people do not get appropriate legal advice and have to rush to the courts, even for petty matters, the NGOs must play a vital role in providing legal literacy to the the people living in the main city as well as residing in the rural areas who are still surrounded by many superstitions as well as other socio-economical evils. The reason for this is very apparent. The population in the rural area is almost completely dependant on the occupation of their ancestors…………Agriculture. They are even not getting the proper normal or primary education then how can we expect of the legal education? While the occupation of the population has not changed over the years, circumstances and natural conditions definitely have. Even the techniques of education have also been changed according to the changing circumstances. Education among the population is very low. Opportunities for developing/ economically exploiting the inherent skills of the people also not prevalent. In such dismal economic condition, people are forced to choose between their education and livelihood.

Govt. schools are situated far away from the cluster of the target villages. The TRIBAL children, especially the girl children are worst affected by the situation. While their parents migrate to nearby cities in search of work, they are left behind to busy with the daily core of life. It is also evident that GOVERNMENT’S “Plans” have also become failure in the rural areas to educate the people.

It has also been observed by us that GOVT. DEPARTMENTS have launched several programmes for the villages BUT it really surprising that there is a big gap in the implementation of these programmes for the village people, in the absence of proper training and innocence of the people. The implementation process is not successful and the Government Machinery is not sufficient to provide training to the village people in time. There is an urgent need to establish a proper training center in the locality and in the vicinity of the villages to provide scientific knowledge to the people concerned.

Hence, the Legal Services Authorities, with the help of NGOs and Young Lawyers can start several programmes to provide legal literacy to the person of the rural areas which is the need of today to help the courts to overcome of the mounting arrears of cases. However, much still needs to be done.
                                                                                                                 

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