To extend free advice on questions of law and offer consultations on matters like property rights, the Delhi University is hosting legal aid clinics which will not be restricted only to the varsity fraternity but open to all.
The clinics, which will also impart para-legal training to DU students and teachers, have been set up in association with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) at DU's Gandhi Bhawan and Campus Law Centre.
"DSLSA has deputed an advocate to visit the clinics every Friday between 3 pm to 5 pm and take the queries of visitors.
The clinics are not restricted just to the DU fraternity but are open to all," Nisha Tyagi, Deputy Dean (Academics), Gandhi Bhawan, told PTI.
"When it comes to law, even the literate are illiterate as to the legal nitty-gritty. There are so many issues like property rights, harassment laws, domestic violence, etc., which a common man wishes to know about, but finds law books too heavy a dose," Ms Tyagi said.
With a view to providing legal aid and training to people, DSLSA has set up several such clinics in the past, including in jails. These clinics are manned by a senior professor, legal aid counsels and a team of para-legal volunteers.
The counsels render appropriate advice to those approaching the clinics and maintain proper record of the cases. The clinics also refer appropriate cases to DSLSA for legal aid.
Advocate RK Bachchan, who visits the DU legal aid clinic, said, "I was surprised to see a greater number of girls visiting the clinic. They have queries pertaining to eve-teasing, dowry prohibition, property inheritance, domestic violence, etc.
"I discuss with them details of the available provisions, their rights and the procedures to be followed. Some times, people come with certain cases and don't have enough means to pursue it in court. I then forward their appeals to DSLSA where a panel takes a call and a select few are offered free legal counsels," he said.
"The consultation sessions have drawn good response and, hence, we have designed a certificate course in consultation with DSLSA for para-legal training," Ms Tyagi said.
The course, open to students and teachers associated with various colleges and departments of DU, will be of 12 hours duration and run through a week in March.
"There is no fee for the course and the number of beneficiaries are not limited, but prior registrations will be mandatory. The applications will have to be routed through department heads or college principals before March 9," added Ms Tyagi.
Some of the topics covered under the course are the POCSO Act, child labour, trafficking, fundamental rights and duties enshrined under the Constitution of India, hierarchy of civil and criminal courts in India, traffic rules and regulations, legal aid mechanism for under-privileged sections, sexual harassment at workplace, etc.
For students, however, it is not a matter of earning a certificate as they said they are impressed with the idea of pursuing an out-of-the box module.
"Legal terms are usually all jargon and beyond our understanding. It might not be that I would like to fight a case but it is always beneficial to know what are the provisions available," said Ritika Bhalla, a Political Science student at PGDAV college.