Chairman NALSA releases ‘Handbook of Formats: Ensuring Effective Legal Services’

Jammu: Justice N.V. Ramana, Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) today released ‘Handbook of Formats: Ensuring Effective Legal Services’ at a webinar in presence of Executive Chairpersons and Member Secretaries of State Legal Services Authorities, Chairpersons of High Court Legal Services Committees and Chairpersons and Secretaries of District Legal Services Authorities.
Prepared in collaboration with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the Handbook is a step towards NALSA’s priority of improving the quality of legal services by strengthening documentation and reporting by Legal Services Institutions across the country.
In the year 2020, NALSA is focused to enhance legal services provided for marginalised and weaker sections. This is in furtherance of ensuring the right of every person to have effective legal representation and the duty of the State under Article 39A of the Constitution of India to provide free legal aid to those who cannot afford it.
“It is equally imperative that legal aid providers are able to document and report their interventions essential to effectuate various NALSA schemes and frameworks. This Handbook is the first crucial step towards standardizing and bringing in uniformity in the use of formats.
This handbook is an effective tool for management of human resources and in future will prove as a small but significant step in realizing justice for all”, Justice Ramana maintained.
Justice Ramana, in his keynote address, highlighted several issues which inter alia included the present situation arisen due to the outbreak of global pandemic of COVID-19 and lockdown thereof.
Thousands of people have lost their lives and livelihood and large scale migration has taken place due to this pandemic, he added saying that the lockdown has itself created psychological issues and violence within the family.
Justice Ramana said that the High Courts and the Supreme Court are working through videoconferencing and the Legal Services Authorities have done tremendous activities during the prevailing pandemic by adopting the latest technology to extend support to the people in distress.
He said that, with an aim to tackle rising violence within the family and increasing instances of child abuse, we have established One Stop Centres (OSCs). Besides, persistent efforts have been made to provide legal assistance, through tele services of female Panel Lawyers in every district while in other matters, petitions are being filed under the Domestic Violence Act.
Justice Ramana said that another focus area for the Legal Services Authorities across the country was to ensure the reduction of over-crowding in prisons. As per the directions of the Supreme Court, SLSAs have actively assisted High Powered Committees to identify and complete the necessary formalities for the release of prisoners, both under trials and convicts, during the pandemic, he added.
“This pandemic has presented before us, multiple emerging issues and the most predominant one is that of reverse migration. Massive reverse
migration will invariably lead to increase in poverty, inequity and discrimination. This pandemic has also affected rights of women, children and senior citizen. This calls for a persistent and target orientation action plan, which we all have to work out together. The future is going to be challenging-Lets stay committed”, Justice Ramana asserted.
Additionally, he also noted that, as many as 58,797 under trial prisoners and 20,972 convicts on parole etc. have been released with the assistance of the Legal Services Institutions and legal representation has been provided to 9,558 persons at the remand stage.
Besides, legal aid and assistance have also been provided in 1,559 domestic violence cases to women; 16,391 convicts; 1,882 labourers; 310 tenants among others. It is also being ensured that Toll free National Legal Helpline 15100 remains fully functional so that no person in need of justice is denied the same, he added. He said that Legal Services Authorities have organised hundreds of webinars across various states and are utilising cost effective tools such as social media, community radio stations, local cable television channels and other digital platforms to increase public outreach“Let these challenging times not paralyse you, like all dark nights
this too shall pass…”, Justice Ramana said in his concluding remarks on the occasion.
The online release programme included a welcome address by Ashok Kumar Jain, Member Secretary, NALSA while Alok Agarwal, Former Member Secretary, NALSA and Sunil Chauhan, Director, NALSA were also present on the occasion.
All speakers reiterated the significance of the Handbook as an effective tool for management of legal services activities, and in future will prove as a significant step in improving organizational practices required for providing legal services.
The Handbook, prepared by NALSA in collaboration with CHRI, consists of two sections. The first section contains formats for legal aid providers i.e. panel lawyers, retainer lawyers, remand lawyers, jail visiting lawyers and lawyers attached to police stations and for community and convict paralegal volunteers.
The second section includes formats for Legal Services Institutions including registers for the Front Office, attendance registers, clinics and for the Monitoring and Mentoring Committees. This handbook contains formats that will enhance data collection, enabling NALSA to analyse trends and patterns emanating from data and identification of issues at the micro level.

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