The Union government on Sunday launched ‘Tele-Law’ – a programme aimed at providing legal aid services in rural areas through digital technology. The programme is a continuation to the Access to Justice Project to Marginalised Persons implemented by UNDP in 2008.
The pilot project is being undertaken by the Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and will be launched across 1000 Common Service Centres (CSC) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and 500 CSCs will be tested in its first phase.
Among the services offered will be video conferencing with lawyers so as to enable people seeking legal advice and counselling. A panel of lawyers from state capitals will also be provided via the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). Legal school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal aid and empowerment can also be connected through CSCs at the panchayat level.
A direct and first contact for people seeking legal advice would be the Para Legal Volunteers (PLV) engaged by the CSC who would assist and help people understand the legal issues and elucidate on the advice given by lawyers. The scheme plans to appoint 1000 women PLVs who would work through CSCs with the agenda to promote women participation and empowerment.
Available in a CSC for 10 days a month, the trained volunteers would connect people with lawyers through video conferencing and record the progress of the applicants’ cases and grievances. Further, they would be required to submit their maintained records to the District Legal Service Authority every week.
Announcing the launch of Tele-Law, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Tele-Law will fulfill our commitment to ensure access to justice & empowerment of the poor. The Common Services Centers and Para Legal Volunteers will offer easy legal advice to litigants in rural India making them digitally and financially inclusive.”