Tele Law Programme
● The Department of Justice organised an event commemorating the milestone of reaching more than 9 lakh beneficiaries under the Tele Law programme.
● Minister of Law and Justice, Electronics & Information Technology and Communication, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad was the chief guest.
● The last year saw a surge of nearly 369% in the number of beneficiaries seeking legal advice.
1. Critically evaluate the Tele Law programme and suggest the way forward to realise Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Nyaya.
Tele Law Programme :
● Tele-Law means theuse of information and communications technology for the delivery of legal information and advice. This e-interaction between lawyers and people would be through the video-conferencing infrastructure available at the Common Service Centres(CSCs).
● The programme has the Department of Justice partnering with NALSA and CSC e-Governance Service India to mainstream legal aid to the marginalised communities in India through CSCs.
● The programme connects citizens with lawyers through video conferencing facilities by the Para Legal Volunteers (who are preferably women) at the identified CSCs.
● The lawyers are part of the expert panel of lawyers stationed at the State Legal Service Authorities and the CSC.
● Tele- Law was launched in 2017 covering 170 districts in 11 States through 1800 CSCs, at present Tele-Law is operational in 633 districts in 34 States/UTs covering 50,000 CSCs.
Benefits of the Programme :
● Affordable justice: Legal aid is provided to people free or at nominal costswhich have made justice affordable to the common man.
● Increased access to justice: The programme allows people to seek legal assistance through CSCs even if they are geographically far away from courts and lawyers thereby increasing access to justice.
● Job creation: The programme creates jobs by encouraging village level entrepreneurs to set up CSCs to provide access to the programme.
● Connectivity issues: The programme relies on having good internet connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure. Those living in areas with poor connectivity are unable to take advantage of the programme.
● Lack of awareness: Despite the tremendous increase in beneficiaries seeking legal aid in the last year, more can be done to spread awareness regarding the programme.
● Lack of feedback: The programme does not collect feedback from the beneficiaries on the quality of advice provided. This gap prevents the effective evaluation of the programme.
● Lack of linkages to other programmes: At present, the lawyers only give advice to the beneficiaries. Linkages to other programmes like legal aid and pro-bono lawyers are not present which acts as a barrier to people from accessing courts and thus limits the overall access to justice.
● Feedback from the beneficiaries must be collected.
● Linkages must be created to other existing programmes like legal aid and pro-bono consulting to increase access to justice.
● Improvement in telecommunications and internet connectivity especially in remote areas to expand the footprint of the programme to remote areas.
● Greater awareness of the programme must be spread especially among the vulnerable sections of society so that they can access justice.