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50 trained paralegals to man aid clinics

Jorhat, Dec. 6: In a bid to take legal aid to the doorsteps of the people, the District Legal Services Authority here has conducted a daylong orientation programme of 50 paralegal volunteers who, after further training, will man legal aid clinics in different parts of the district, including Majuli.

Chief judicial magistrate Md Darak Ullah said the paralegal volunteers would next be given a four-day training on different aspects of law so that they could aid the common people when they require legal services.

This was also part of the Supreme Court directive on Bachpan Bachao programme in which a paralegal volunteer should be attached to every police station 24 hours to help people write complaints in cases related to child trafficking and crimes against women.

“The presence of a knowledgeable volunteer will act as a deterrent against the police who ignore such crimes and fail to register complaints,” Darak Ullah said.

In Jorhat, two legal aid clinics exist — one in Jorhat Central Jail where 12 paralegal volunteers guide undertrials and another is open in front of the court.

Darak Ullah said there were 500 jail inmates and 300 undertrials in the Jorhat jail.

“Many of these inmates may not know that in a rape or murder case the police have to finish investigation in 60 or 90 days. If investigations are not completed within the stipulated time, then the prisoner has a right to get bail. Here’s where the paralegal volunteer can help. Further, if the prisoner is too poor to employ a lawyer, the District Legal Services Authority has a panel of lawyers and there is a provision of allotting a lawyer to the undertrial from among them after the filling up a form,” the magistrate said.

The volunteers, who will be paid an honorarium, should be educated youths, preferably graduates, and should have the mindset to serve society.

After undertaking the four-day course on basics of law such as family laws, marriage laws, adoption, maintenance, custody guardianship, criminal laws pertaining to bail, arrests, rights of prisoners, labour laws, gender-centric laws, laws relating to women, children, SCs and STs, Prevention of Atrocities Act, among others, the paralegal volunteers will be posted at Majuli, Titabar and Mariani in the district.

“Rooms for the legal aid clinics will be provided in blocks or panchayat offices. The Mariani Nagarik Samity has already allotted a room in its office block,” he said.

District Legal Services Authority secretary K. Dohotia said apart from legal aid, the volunteers should also be able to guide the people on welfare schemes and other official work.

“There are innumerable things like getting an NREGA card, or ration card and other benefits meant for girl children, pregnant women or widows and the paralegals should be able to guide them on where to apply and which official to approach. There are other official work pertaining to land or for getting a permanent resident certificate and these, too, should be handled by them,” Dohotia said.