National Law University Delhi
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Legal Services Committee

Over the years, the Legal Services Committee has been involved in fostering legal aid and awareness. While previously our focus was on spreading awareness about rights and facilitating access to courts, from this year the Committee has expanded its domain to also ensure access to government institutions. We believe that given the socio-economic nature of various issues, the remedy must involve interaction with the wider government machinery, with the legal system an essential part of this. We feel that it is our responsibility to have such an objective given the resources and legal expertise available at the disposal of the Legal Services Committee.

    This Project, being undertaken by the Legal Services Committee in association with the SafaiKaramchariAndolan (SKA), aims to identify the families of deceased sewerage workers and to help them claim compensation from the Government of NCT of Delhi. According to the Supreme Court judgment in SafaiKaramchariAndolan v. Union of India (2014) 11 SCC 224in March 2014, the families of persons who have died while cleaning sewers/septic tanks since 1993 are entitled to a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs from the state government or union territory. While it has been more than two years since the SC judgment was pronounced, as per information received by the Committee through RTI, there seems to be no government department which has initiated the process of identifying such families and providing compensation to them.

    Through this Project, we are trying to trace as many families as possible of sewerage workers who have died while being engaged in such forms of manual scavenging in Delhi. We are also helping the families in procuring relevant documents (such as death certificate, post-mortem report, FIR, etc.) from the concerned authorities and in approaching the state government for claiming compensation. The Project has already obtained information about families of more than 50 deceased sewerage workers through visits to HarijanBastis, police stations and courts across Delhi with the help of committee members and volunteers across batches of the University.
    Continuing from its operation through the previous year, the Committee re-activated the Legal Aid Clinic to ensure it is fully functional. The Clinic has a separate office space where a legal aid lawyer from the South-West District Legal Services Authority visits the Clinic every week to deal with various grievances addressed to the Clinic. Also, the Clinic now has a dedicated phone number, enabling easier access to persons both within and outside the University. The Committee ensured that awareness drives (through posters and conversations) for the Clinic were not just for areas in and around Dwarka but as much for the staff and other members of the University. Members of the Committee coordinate with the clients and facilitate their access to the lawyer. Each case is recorded and the Committee follows up on the status of the legal issues, providing assistance where it is necessary by way of filing of FIRs, RTIs, contacting officials, accompanying clients, etc. Anyone in need of free legal counsel can reach us at - +91 9560024612.
    The Committee, in collaboration with i-Probono, organized a first-of-its-kind event from 19-23 February 2017 – ‘Pro Bono Week’. The event introduced law students to the practice, scope and challenges associated with pro bono legal work. It underscored the need for skilled lawyers to engage in working with disadvantaged groups and individuals, to enable access to justice. Over the course of the week, students from the University were exposed to various events such as panel discussions on pro bono practice attended by senior lawyers, workshop on the Theatre of the Oppressed, drafting and pleading workshop on themes specific to pro bono practice and other events.

    Inaddition to the above mentioned core activities, the Committee also facilitates legal research for various NGO’s by putting them in touch with our student body.