The Legal Aid Clinic at Jindal Global Law School and Social Services Society aim at empowering the communities living in the vicinity of campus and providing enduring solutions to their problems by invoking law as a tool of social engineering. Both the societies are coherently structured and split into various initiatives aiming at effecting catering to diverse range of issues countenanced by the community members. As part of Legal Aid Clinic’s and Social Services Society’s education initiative, diverse range of activities have been embarked upon.
The Social Services Society engages with children from economically weaker section from the nearby communities and provide them free tuitions on campus. This has helped many students to graduate with flying colours in senior secondary examinations. The Legal Aid Clinic’s education initiative has been engaging with the schools in the nearby villages of Chhatera and Jatheri on diverse range of issues including quality of teaching, abysmal attendance of teachers and students in the school, electricity problems faced by public schools and sanitation concerns.
The education initiative along with litigation initiative has filed number of petitions in the courts to enforce the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 which enables children from weaker sections to study in private schools. The recent victory of the Clinic before the Allahabad High Court in securing 6.37 lakh seats for children from economically weaker section is particularly noteworthy in this respect.
The right to information initiative of the Legal Aid Clinic is directly involved in promoting Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Jatheri village and has filed multiple RTI applications in addressing cleanliness issues in the village. The initiative is working closely with people to ensure that toilets are constructed in the community and people are reimbursed as per the government’s policy.
The Clinic has a specialised wing that deals directly with creating awareness about provisions of Protection of Child Sexual Offences Act. This initiative has a three year running MoU with child line India – a leading organisation on the issue in India. There are various awareness camps that are held as part of its mandate in schools, and students are sensitised to differentiate between a ‘good touch’ and a ‘bad touch’. This initiative has already addressed more than 2000 students in the NCR.
The Social Services Society has adopted a nearby village, Rohat and a child orphanage – Balgram, wherein student volunteers frequently engage with the community members to proactively disseminate awareness of laws and rope the community members in main stream of society.
The Legal Aid Clinic’s initiative on access to healthcare has been a champion of healthcare laws in the community. It aims at creating awareness on free schemes under the Haryana Mukhya Mantri Ilaj Yojna to nearby community members and bridge the gap in access to health care. The clinic has also filed a petition before the Allahabad High Court, in the wake of Gorakhpur tragedy, to seek a direction from the court to make healthcare as a justiciable right.
The Legal Aid Clinic’s legal awareness initiative works very closely with S.M.Sehgal Foundation and District Legal Services Authority in creating awareness in the villages of Gurgaon and Sonipat. The mandate is to conduct legal awareness camps and provide information on welfare schemes to community members and also take up their pending applications and expedite them before the concerned authorities.
Recognising its work, the Legal Aid Clinic was awarded community engagement awards by Hebert Smith Freehills’ – an International law firm that is known for its community engagement schemes and pro onto services on 7th September, 2017.
INITIATIVE OF JGLS’ CLINICAL PROGRAMMES TO STRENGTHEN AND PROMOTE LAW SCHOOL CLINICS IN INDIA
The necessity to strengthen and promote law school clinics (LSCs) in India has its rationale and urgency in several concerns relating to issues of equal access to justice, legal aid, rule of law, governance, human rights etc. These concerns include the quest to make legal education socially relevant and inclusive of masses, while making it an instrument of addressing the disconnect between promises of law and their reality. India has over sixteen hundred law schools. They present an opportunity with immense potential to translate constitutional guarantees of various fundamental provisions, including the right to a dignified life and the right to equality before law and its equal protection, into reality. The need is to harness this potential and orient the resources that the law schools have in terms of their mandate, infrastructure and human power, especially the young, amorphous, and promising minds. Promoting and strengthening law school clinics is a much required and desired way to transform India’s legal education along these lines.
Legal education through law school clinics or Clinical Legal Education (CLE) is a method of teaching and learning law to build lawyering skills and secure social justice. CLE, globally, has two main objectives – one micro and another macro. The micro objective of CLE is to impart lawyering skills amongst students and its macro objective is to achieve social justice. CLE’s methodology of “learning by doing” requires effective access of students to apply law to real situations and clients. This mandates robust legal clinics in law schools. If law schools are provided avenues to engage in real work as they teach, their teaching will be more effective and they will provide much needed support in ensuring equal access to justice for all. For almost every law school course, CLE method may be used to impart legal education. Thus, law school clinics need to be strengthened and oriented to provide avenues to different courses to adopt methods of CLE. CLE has great potential to change the landscape of both legal education and access to justice for masses in India.
To strengthen legal education along these lines, Clinical Programmes of Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), along with several partners, is spearheading an initiative to strengthen and promote legal clinics of one hundred selected law schools across India and develop them as models. JGLS’ Clinical Programmes, through regional consultations with law schools, is identifying one hundred law schools to develop model clinics to inspire and motivate the rest other over fifteen hundred law schools in India. Five regional centres in selected law schools will be developed and promoted through this initiative. These centres will support twenty law schools each and thus develop a model of one hundred law schools with vibrant legal aid clinics for community service and access to justice. Clinical Programmes of JGLS will provide support and overall coordination to these regional centres and other stakeholders.