On April 20, 2017, Union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad launched following 3 three initiatives for providing legal aid to marginalised and vulnerable communities:
Pro bono legal services:
In legal parlance, ‘pro bono’ means work undertaken without any charge.
- Pro bono legal service is a web-based initiative through which lawyers who want to volunteer for ‘pro bono’ services can register on the justice department website: doj.gov.in.
- Litigants from marginalised communities who cannot afford legal services can avail services of these registered volunteers.
- Govt will duly recognise the services of ‘pro bono’ lawyers by considering it as one of the positive criterion while making appointments to appropriate positions.
Under this initiative, litigants from marginalised communities can avail legal advice from expert panel of lawyers stationed at State Legal Services Centres (SLCA) by video conferencing through the common service centres (CSCs).
- The CSCs would be operated by para-legal volunteers.
- ‘Tele Law’ will be launched across 1,800 panchayats in Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and North Eastern states.
‘Nyaya Mitra’ Scheme aims to reduce pendency in lower courts of selected districts. Cases which have been pending for more than 10 years will be accorded priority.
- A retired judicial officer or an executive officer with judicial experience will be given charge as a ‘Nyaya Mitra’ who will assist litigants suffering from judicial delays.
- Nyaya Mitra will identify such cases through the National Judicial Data Grid and will connect litigants to government agencies and civil society organizations.
- This scheme will be launched in 27 districts of J&K and North Eastern States as well as 200 districts in Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has mentioned that “using technology for providing access to legal services is in line with the Digital India initiative”.