Government launches Tele Law to provide legal aid in rural areas via video conferencing
Under the scheme, a portal called ‘Tele-Law’ will be launched, which will be available across the Common Service Centre (CSC) network. This will connect the citizens to legal service providers with the help of technology-enabled platforms.
To provide legal aid for the people living in rural areas, the Union Government on 11 June 2017 launched 'Tele Law' service. Under the service, the legal aid will be provided through video conferencing to marginalised communities of rural areas.
The service was launched by IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. After launching the service, Prasad said, the legal aid through Tele-Law will fulfil the government's commitment to ensuring access to justice and empowerment of the poor.
The Ministry of Law and Justice partnered with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will provide legal aid services through its Common Service Centres (CSC) at the panchayat level, spread across the country.
Why was the Tele Law service launched?
The service has been launched to make legal aid easily accessible to the marginalised communities and citizens living in rural areas.
Key Facts about the service
• Under the scheme, the Tele-Law portal will be available across the CSC network connecting the citizens to legal service providers.
• The portal will connect law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal through the CSCs.
• The National Legal Services Authority's (NALSA) panel of lawyers from state capitals will also provide legal advice and counselling to the applicants.
• A robust monitoring and evaluation system is also being designed which will help in assessing the quality of legal advice provided and the ensuing benefit to those accessing it.
In the first phase, the Tele-Law scheme will be tested as a pilot across 1000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This initiative will also serve as an opportunity to build the capacity of 1000 women Para Legal Volunteers (PLV).
The first phase of the Tele-Law will be rolled out in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to understand the challenges and make necessary corrections to the scheme before it is scaled up and rolled out across the country. The service will be rolled out across India in a phased manner.
Para Legal Volunteer (PLV)
In addition to this, under this scheme, every Common Service Centre (CSC) will engage a Para Legal Volunteer (PLV). These PLVs will be the first point of contact for the rural citizens and they will also help them in understanding the legal issues, explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in further action required in cases as per the advice of the lawyer.
Women PLVs will be encouraged and trained under the Scheme. One thousand women PLVs will work for mainstreaming legal aid services through the CSCs. The aim is to promote women entrepreneurship and empowerment and ensure women participation. The selected PLVs will also be provided with relevant training to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
Availability and work of Para Legal Volunteer (PLV)
• A trained PLV will be available in a CSC for ten days in a month under the Scheme.
• These PLVs will help the applicant connect with a lawyer through the video conferencing facility at the CSC and will keep a track of the progress of the applicants’ cases and grievances and maintain a record.
• They will also submit the records maintained by the District Legal Service Authority every week.
The service named Tele Law is a continuation of the Access to the Access to Justice Project for Marginalized Persons which is being implemented by Department of Justice and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
The Access to Justice Project partnered with CSC-E-governance Services India Limited to mainstream legal literacy through common service centres in Jharkhand (10 CSCs in 3 districts) and then through 500 CSCs across 11 districts in Rajasthan.
Under the program, 500 VLEs in Rajasthan were trained on social justice legislations such as fundamental rights, the right to information, citizen rights vis-à-vis policing, gender laws, child rights and labour laws.