Whether Tele Law Scheme Is Panacea Of Free Legal Aid ?

Suman Tiwari

25 Oct 2021 10:22 AM GMT

  • Whether Tele Law Scheme Is Panacea Of Free Legal Aid ?

    Tele Law SchemeThe scheme of Tele Law launched on June 11, 2017 is outcome of collaboration between Ministry of Law , National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) and Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology . The scheme is to facilitate delivery of legal advice virtually to the general public through, the panel lawyer stationed at the State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) using network...

    Tele Law Scheme

    The scheme of Tele Law launched on June 11, 2017 is outcome of collaboration between Ministry of Law , National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) and Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology . The scheme is to facilitate delivery of legal advice virtually to the general public through, the panel lawyer stationed at the State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) using network of Common Service Center (CSC) through video conferencing or Tele phone. Hence the entire objective of the scheme was to make the availability of legal advice hassle free using technology . Presently the scheme is functional in 260 districts across 34 State / UT through the network of CSC. CSC are established on 16th July 2009 by ministry of electronics and information technology with an objective to provide e-services to rural and remote locations at panchayat level where availability of computer and internet is minimal or negligible to achieve objective of digitally advanced India, one of the flagship schemes launched by government of India. Tele law project also conceptualise concept of local self-governance as CSC centres are operated by Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE).At present total 29,860 CSC are functional throughout India. The scheme facilitates free of cost advice to the persons entitled for free legal aid as provided under section 12 of Legal Service Authority Act 1987 , while other can also avail this benefit using network of CSC for a fixed timeslot of 20 minutes at Rs 30 per consultation . Till Sep 15 ,2021 total 1148755 beneficiaries have been registered and 1139794 received advice opting this mode of interaction with Lawyer.

    How To Use

    The first stage in the process of materialising the Tele -law scheme is to identify people in need of legal advice. This task is being performed by Para Legal Volunteers (PLV) of the area. Scheme of appointment of PLV in 2009 by NLSA is a commendable step as they are expected to act as intermediaries bridging the gap between the common people and the legal service institution to remove the impediment in access of justice to the people living in remote areas. They are trained with basic legal knowledge, working of various institution, welfare scheme of Government so, that they could help the needy of their local area. PLVs in each area are duty bound to identify the citizen facing any legal issue and to bring them in CSC centre for legal advice. To assist parties' registration for Legal Advice and to facilitate their talk and understanding of advice given by the panel lawyer under Tele Law Scheme PLV who are well versed with computer are attached with the selected CSC centre by concerned DLSA. With the coordination with PLV, VLE the case of beneficiary is registered using website of the scheme i.e. http://tele-law.in/ and accordingly appointment with panel lawyer is scheduled. A specific date and time for the consultation with panel lawyer would be given to the applicant at which they need to arrive at CSC. On the scheduled date and time tele consultation would take place for maximum period of 20 minutes. A person can ask for maximum three subsequent consultation. It is also beauty of the scheme that allotment of lawyer is based on the nature of complaint.

    Nyay Bandhu App

    Nyay Bandhu App which is off shoot of Tele Law Scheme was launched in 2019 by the Government of India for underprivileged section of the society, keeping in mind accessibility and affordability of android phone to general public. Using this app free legal advice could be sought by downtrodden section of the society by pro bono legal advisor willingly registered in this app with intent to render free legal advice to needy and poor. For free legal aid through the app the eligibility criteria is same as given in section 12 of Legal Service Authority Act 1987 i.e. women, children, backword class victim of human trafficking, flood, person belonging to schedule caste etc. Since Nov 2020 list of services available on Umang app includes Nyay Bandhu also. Till date almost 1349 cases and total 3285 lawyers have been registered in the Nyay bandhu App.

    How To Use

    Registration In Nyay Bandhu app is also very easy and user friendly. This APP could be installed from the Google play store of any Android mobile. After filling general personal information like parentage, date of birth, ID proof, mobile number etc, applicant is also required to upload certificate issued by competent authority which prove that they belong to category entitled for free legal aid under Section 12 of Legal Service Authority Act 1987. Although, if someone has no certificate at the timing of filling application, he or she is not helpless in that case sample affidavit could be uploaded. Once The application is filled and uploaded, after scrutiny of their application and content counsel will be assigned to them as per the nature of their dispute. On the date assigned to them for consultation the counsel handed over the case will contact beneficiary on given number for giving advice. Since Nov 2020 services of Nyay Bandhu app is available on Unified Mobile Application for New- age Governance app (UMANG) app as well which offers nearly 600 government services in single app

    Legal Service Mobile Application

    The Theme song of National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) "Ahsaas sab ke liye, Vishwas sab ke liye" itself reflect for what NLSA is striving and aspiring . Legal Services Mobile App launched by NLSA in collaboration of Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 8 ,2021 shows vision and concern of the Legal Service Authority towards ensuring availability of free legal aid and other legal services to needy and poor using technology. Since 2017 it is the third effort of Government to ensure availability of legal aid to the needy in their doorstep using technology. The success of Tele Law scheme (launched in 2017), Nyay Bandhu mobile app (launched in 2019) acts as precursor of launching similar app.

    How To Use

    This App could be downloaded from google play store of any android mobile phone and in future it will be available for IOS mobile user also to ensure its availability to maximum number of people. Using this App legal service institutions of different part of country could be connected together for the cause of justice within fraction of second to secure justice irrespective of their place caste and creed. This App will provide assistance in respect of all legal services which NLSA is providing i.e. Free Legal aid, victim compensation, mediation etc. After downloading the app a person personally (also legally authorised person) or office is required to choose the services he sought to avail i.e. free legal aid, victim compensation, mediation and the institution with whom he wants to connect i.e. NLSA ,State Legal Service Authority (SLSA), High Court Legal Service Committee(HCLSC) ,Supreme Court Legal Service Committee(SCLSC),District Legal Service Committee(DLSC) , Taluqua Legal Service Committee (TLSC) .After selecting institution a page of nature of grievance will appear and detail is required to be filled accordingly . After filling case detail next page related to personal detail will appear i.e. date of birth, education ,place of residence ,parentage etc and after filling this page the next page will open in which case detail is required to be filled ,accordingly case will be registered and the generated registration Id and Dairy no will be send to them in their phone number or given email id. In the same way application for other relief could be filled giving detail of relief, personal information and case. Under the App also a person can trace his application status using registration id or dairy number. under the app national help line number is also given 15100, any person with this app in his mobile could get his query resolved using this number and can also submit his grievance using NLSA email id (nalsa-dla@nic.in). Apart from this information of all schemes and notification of NLSA could be accessed with the help of this App.

    Relevance Of The Scheme

    Presently three type of technology based legal assistance program is running under the aegis of Tele Law Scheme i.e. providing legal assistance through the network of CSC, Nyay Bandhu App , Legal Service Mobile Application .Launching these kind of app based legal services will play applaudable role in promoting digital literacy of common man as we all know that necessity is a mother of all invention. Switching the conventional mode of approaching legal service institution and opting this mode will be fruitful for every stake holder of legal service institution as it will save time, money of every beneficiary . Also taking assistance of these Apps would be safer option for general public ,as the concern of being humiliation and risk of life and safety prevent many of us to approach legal institution, which ultimately denied justice to so many people .

    So, certainly these mode of rendering legal service will go a long way in securing justice to vulnerable section of the society. Before the launch of tele law scheme beneficiary of free legal aid are required to approach District legal service authority or Taluqa Legal Service Authority for appointment of counsel among the designated panel lawyers but now they can avail it at their doorstep using technology .The out broke of Covid 19 and its declaration as pandemic disease by World Health Organisation (WHO) created impediment in getting free legal aid particularly of underprivileged class as movement of people are badly affected .The gigantic form of its second wave and fear of coming third wave again highlighted importance of Tele Law Scheme as more than three lakh death officially reported in India due to covid 19 ,however everyone knows that the toll is far greater. So, adaptability for new normal is a need of hour to ensure minimum contact and maintain social distancing.

    May be that's why Tele Law witnessed surge of approximately 370 percent in number of beneficiaries seeking legal advice through this medium during last one year. As reported by ministry of law and justice recently new milestone has been achieved in June 2021 with more than 9.5 lakh citizen being benefited by Tele Law scheme and this medium was extensively used by common citizen for asserting their rights and entitlement during Covid 19 pandemic. Considering its relevance the Tele law programme is proposed to be expanded to over 25 lakh panchayats between 2021 to 2026.These data itself shows certainly, if people start prioritising using this method of getting legal advice at initial stage of issue, the concept of equal justice and free legal aid could be materialised in more effective, convenient and cost-effective way. Also, till date almost 1349 cases and total 3285 lawyers have been registered in the Nyay bandhu App.

    However, the number of beneficiary and registered lawyers in the App , are not satisfactory if we compare it with population of India but , its usefulness cannot be denied in coming times as number of smart phone user area continuously increasing . So, making people aware of these scheme and launching drive of digital literacy among masses must be a focus point .The task of generating awareness and enhancement of digital literacy with spirit of theme song of NLSA "Ahsas sab ke liye, vishwas sab ke liye" could be conveniently performed by District Legal Service Authority of respective district with the help of secretary of Taluka and district administration ,PLV working in their district, TV channel, legal aid clinics functional in their district, Law student ensuring their participation in the drive, installing hoarding at every public offices to popularise these App , organisation of Shiver, etc .For the above mentioned purpose several scheme and program of NLSA and SLSA is launched time to time to be implemented by DLSA of district . Along With this effort should also be made to bridge the gap in digital literacy and skill of rural citizens through the range of digital literacy drive .To promote young and dynamic lawyer's registration under Nyay Bandhu App or Tele law scheme, provision of weightage of their name over others at the time of considering their elevation as Judge or appointment to appropriate positions could be introduced .Last but not least, it is Fundamental duty of every citizen to render national service when called upon to do so, hence it is a right time for everyone to ensure their contribution in publicizing the scheme so that everyone of us be known as Constitution abiding citizen.

    The author is a Judge, UP Judicial Services Secretary (DLSA). Views are personal.

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