KADAPA: The word Sahayam means help in Telugu. Doing justice to his name, Suresh Sahayam, a 57-year-old paralegal volunteer of Kadapa district, has been extending legal help to the poor people in need.
The Legal Services Act, 1987 enables the people having white ration cards avail legal services for free. In the last eight years, Suresh Sahayam has been creating awareness among the people on the Act and has extended help to many people to find a legal solution to their cases/disputes.
Recognising his contributions to the society, the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) presented him the ‘Best Para Legal Volunteer from Andhra Pradesh’ award in November 2019. The Kadapa District Legal Service Authority recognised him as the best DLSA and he received the award from District Collector Harikiran on the Republic Day this year.
Suresh Sahayam also volunteered to help many students, who stuck at various places across the country during the Covid-induced lockdown, reach their hometowns, provided provisions to the poor families with help of donors during the lockdown and distributed masks, sanitisers and homeo medicines.
Suresh set up the Health Education and Economic Development Society (HEEDS) in 1987 and since then, he has been helping people to avail the benefits of watersheds, tanks development, agriculture and wildlife conservation, among others. In 2012, noticing the efforts of Sahayam and his dedication to serve the poor, the judges in the district — Shayama Sunder and Malati — encouraged him to become a para legal volunteer to extend legal aid to the poor under the LSA, Subsequently, he completed the para legal training. “Under LSA 1987, every person having white ration card is eligible to get free legal services. However, ignorant of such a provision, the poor, especially in the rural areas, are afraid to proceed with court cases and they will settle the disputes at panchayats, even if they don’t get the justice they deserve,” Sahayam told TNIE.
After the training, he started creating awareness among the poor on the LSA. In the last eight years, he has helped many people file petitions, avail free legal service in cases related to civil, criminal, land encroachment, non-payment of wages, high school fees and denial of certificates for non-clearance of fees, and cheating cases.
In 2018, Abusama from Malda in West Bengal employed 150 workers to erect high-tension electric lines. He was to be paid `7 lakh for wages. However, when the contract agency did not pay, he filed a petition in the Lok Adalat with help of Sahayam and got `4,83,260. Similarly, M Lakshmi Devi in Chapadu mandal was cheated by her husband’s brothers by not giving her share in the joint family property. Sahayam helped her file a petition in the court and finally she got 19 cents of agricultural land.
Similarly, a tribal student studying 5th class, who was denied TC, was helped by him. In 2017, he was among the seven para legal volunteers selected to attend NLSA conference from AP. “There is immense satisfaction in helping the poor and ensuring that they get benefits from the schemes for them,” he said.