CUTTACK: In a novel initiative to take legal services to the doorsteps of the sections who have no capacity or access to justice delivery systems, a band of lawyers have fanned out to the villages in several districts of the State.
About 20 young lawyers have been enrolled under the Young Lawyers Fellowship Programme of the Union Government and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) to not only provide legal aid services to the marginalised and victimised sections but also to identify people, who are in dire need of such assistance. They would be working in the districts of Cuttack, Ganjam, Balangir, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Khurda, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh and Nabarangpur.
The programme is being implemented by the Committee for Legal Aid to Poor (CLAP) at the ground level in the 10 districts.
The Justice fellows will be working for one year and conduct legal services clinics at the village-level to identify people. They would organise legal awareness camps and also take up cases in the courts for upholding Legal rights of the marginalised groups.
The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, stipulates women, children, SC/ST, physically challenged and those with annual income less than ` 50,000 are entitled to legal aid that not only covers advice but also fees of lawyers, costs and expenses on documents, etc.
“The benefits are still not reaching the bulk of the targeted populace. Even as the load of litigations continues to rise rapidly, the beneficiaries of the legal aid programmes do not even exceed 5,000 a year. This has been wrought on primarily for lack of knowledge and inability of the people to take advantage of the law. The young lawyers will bridge the gap between legal aid eligible and State legal aid structure apart from helping people to gain access to justice,” CLAP president Bikash Das said.
The fellowship to the young lawyers was conferred by member-secretary of the Orissa State Legal Services Authority BC Ratha on Sunday in the presence of Orissa State Bar Council GK Mohanty and ED of CLAP PK Acharya.