IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL AID CLINICS IN LAW SCHOOLS

And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that...

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And in my own life, in my own small way, I’ve tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That’s why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us – no matter what our age or background or walk of life – each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.Michelle Obama

 

Legal Aid Clinics basically serve the purpose of providing legal advice not for the aim of earning profit but in General Public Interest. In law schools, though knowledge of law is thoroughly imparted. However theoretical knowledge is not sufficient when its applicability is not known. Opportunities for mooting are also limited. Students pursuing law have zeal and enthusiasm to provide legal services. Legal aid clinics thus serve the two-fold purpose, the first that they provide free legal services to economically weaker people and second, they direct the energies of the students of law in contributing to the society. These students are headed by their teachers. The members of the Legal Aid clinic are engaged in spreading legal awareness in rural areas through street plays as well as legal aid camps where they make the target population aware of different legal service programs and guide them to avail these facilities.

Article 14 of the Constitution of India talks about equality before law and Article 39A provides for equal justice and free legal aid.

“Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for holistic approach in imparting justice to the litigating parties. It not only includes providing free legal aid via appointment of counsel for the litigants, but also includes ensuring that justice is not denied to litigating parties due to financial difficulties.”[1]

“The State, which has been mandated by Article 39A of the Constitution to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice by providing free legal aid and that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, has not been able to create an effective mechanism for making justice accessible to the poor, downtrodden and disadvantaged. In last two and a half decades the institution of the legal services authorities has rendered yeoman’s service in the field of providing legal aid to the poor but a lot is required to be done for ensuring justice to economically deprived section of the society and those who suffer from other disabilities like illiteracy and ignorance.”[2]

Women and children, laborers, victims of human-trafficking and persons with disability are most vulnerable to atrocities and hence, they need legal advice. Law students are basically required to seek help from their teachers and professors and assist the people seeking legal advice. They may even bring the matter before the legal service authorities if needed.  What is needed is a sense of sensitivity and commitment to provide legal services in an era where the crime rate is at its peak which is opposite to the speed of administration of justice.
By:

Roopali Mohan
Campus Associate
VIPS, New Delhi

[1] Manoharan vs Sivarajan & Ors. (2014) 4 SCC 163

[2] New India Assurance Co.Ltd vs Gopali & Ors.  AIR 2012 SC 3381

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