NEW DELHI: With an aim to make legal aid easily accessible to the marginalized communities and citizens living in rural areas, the government on Sunday has launched the ‘Tele-Law’ initiative of the Ministry of Law and Justice partnered with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that anchors the Digital India programme, to provide legal aid services through its Common Service Centres (CSC) at the panchayat level, spread across the country.
According to the Law Ministry, in the first phase, the ‘Tele-Law’ scheme will be tested as a pilot across 500 such CSCs in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to understand the challenges and make necessary corrections to the scheme before it is scaled up and rolled out across the country in a phased manner.
Under the scheme, a portal called ‘Tele-Law’ will be launched, which will be available across the CSC network. This will connect the citizens to legal service providers with the help of technology-enabled platforms.
Ministry further said that ‘Tele-Law’ will enable people to seek legal advice from lawyers through video conferencing available at the CSC. Additionally, law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal aid and empowerment can also be connected through the CSCs anywhere and anytime, in order to strengthen access to justice for the marginalized communities. A robust monitoring and evaluation system is also being designed which will help in assessing the quality of legal advice provided and the ensuing benefit to those accessing it.
“I am extremely happy to have launched the Tele Law, the legal aid to poor through which will be made available through the Common Services Centers. Tele-Law will fulfill our commitment to ensure access to justice & empowerment of the poor. The Common Services Centers and Para Legal Volunteers will offer easy legal advice to litigants in rural India making them digitally and financially inclusive,” Minister for Electronics, IT, Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad said while launching the initiative.
Law ministry’s statement also said that in addition to this, under this scheme, every CSC will engage a Para Legal Volunteer PLV, who will be the first point of contact for the rural citizens and will help them in understanding the legal issues, explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in further action required in cases as per the advice of the lawyer. Women PLVs will be encouraged and trained under the Scheme. One thousand women PLVs will work for mainstreaming legal aid services through the CSCs. The aim is to promote women entrepreneurship and empowerment and ensure women participation. The selected PLVs will also be provided with relevant training to fulfill their responsibilities effectively.
The National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) will provide a panel of lawyers who will be sitting in the State capitals and will be available through video conferencing to provide legal advice/counseling to the applicant at the CSCs, according to the statement by the law ministry