Lawyers’ bodies extend legal help to distressed and needy 

Officially, Delhi has a legal help body namely Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) which is the erstwhile Delhi Legal Aid & Advice Board.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

A man who left Kerala for the United Kingdom (UK) 17 years ago and went missing was recently found by a lawyer-activist at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi.

The unexpected story of the reunion of a 37-year-old man, who was mentally disturbed, with his family back in his hometown in Thiruvananthapuram points out the importance of legal help for common people who reach the national capital from across the country.

There are numerous incidents of those struck in the capital city after being affected by various frauds or crimes, especially from southern states, who are lacking proficiency in communicating their issues due to the language barrier. Officially, Delhi has a legal help body namely Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) which is the erstwhile Delhi Legal Aid & Advice Board.

The DSLSA has been constituted by an Act of Parliament passed under “The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987” as amended by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 2002, to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker sections of society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.

Apart from the government authority, there are several legal support bodies functioning in the city. North Delhi Lawyers Association (NDLA) general secretary Vineet Jindal said, recognizing the limited legal recourse available for the migrants – the NDLA will soon launch a robust digital platform to support such migrants, in close coordination with respective state governments. 

According to Jindal, the legal help desk with the NDLA would have the objectives of providing legal assistance, aid, support as well as guidance. Robin Raju, a functionary of Distress Management Collective (DMC), an NGO, says there are wide ranges of issues for those from southern states like Kerala. Even after settling in the national capital, they need legal help ranging from injustice in their daily life to the last rites of the dead.

Chairperson of Distress Management Collective (DMC) Deepa Joseph, who was instrumental in reuniting the Kerala youth after 17 years of missing from his hometown, talked to this newspaper about her NGO and various legal issues faced by the people reaching the city among other things.

Excerpts from an interview: 

Can you elaborate on DMC’s expertise?
We offer holistic aid, and though we provide legal support, our work is not confined to that. DMC also pitches in with help through diplomatic channels as well as in medical aid. About the legal part, we intervene in various issues through Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions often moved in Delhi High Court. We are a collective of 2,000+ members, 10 trustees, and volunteer networks spread. Our patrons include retired officers like Ambassador K P Fabian (IFS), Ambassador T P Sreenivasan,  Dr C V Ananda Bose (IAS), and Justice C S Rajan. 

How does your NGO support people in distress?
Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, DMC has been tirelessly working on the ground to help support Covid relief efforts. So far, DMC has supported over 10 lakh people with plasma, hospital bed admissions, high-scarcity medicines, food, housing security, and other humanitarian aid during both the first and second waves of the pandemic. 

Can you point out incidents like the one from IGI?
Yesterday, two bike riders, who were traveling all the way from Palakkad to Leh were manhandled by miscreants in the national capital. Contacted by our team, we provided them with legal and medical help. In another incident, a 75-year-old man from Kerala was wandering near AIIMS. The man who suffers from memory loss was taken care of by our team and he is admitted to a shelter home and doing well now.

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