New Delhi [India], July 6 (ANI): Stating that the BJP-led Central government started establishing Common Service Centres (CSCs) in 2017 and nearly 9 lakh people benefitted from 4 lakh such centers since then, the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday said that the government is planning to provide legal advice to over 1 crore people via paralegal volunteers, CSC operators, and the panel of lawyers.
"We began establishing Common Service Centre in 2017. Nearly 9 lakh people benefitted from 4 lakh such centers since then. Planning to provide legal advice to over 1 cr people via paralegal volunteers, CSC operators, and a panel of lawyers," said the Union Minister at a meeting on Tele-Law held here today.
Heralding the beginning of "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" and to commemorate the milestone of reaching more than 9 lakh beneficiaries under its Tele-Law program, the Department of Justice organised an event here today, said the Union Ministry of law and justice, adding that Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was the chief guest on this occasion.
Today more than 50,000 Tele Law functionaries across the country got the chance to see and digitally connect with the event, said the ministry.
Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad commended the efforts of VLEs, PLVs, State Coordinators and Panel Lawyers who have become a support pillar for connecting, and solving the day-to-day socio-legal concerns /conflicts of common citizens and facilitating the masses in availing benefits introduced for them under various schemes. The Minister appreciated the efforts of the Department of Justice for the collection and compilation of real-time stories of the beneficiaries. Minister also mentioned the potential of Tele Law to foster inclusive character of justice delivery and strengthening rule of law.
A virtual tour of two of the remotest Common Service Centres (CSCs) in M. Rampur Panchayat of Kalahandi district in Odisha and CSC in Tullamulla Panchayat of Ganderbal district in UT of Kashmir was also made by the Minister that revealed the reach of technology in the far-flung areas. The tour helped in understanding the challenges that the VLEs/PLVs encounter in ensuring Tele-Law service reaches the masses.
While speaking at the event, Barun Mitra, Secretary, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, said that by Integrating smart technology through tele and video conferencing, Tele Law has mainstreamed legal aid to the marginalized by connecting them with a dedicated pool of Panel Lawyers either free of cost if so entitled or at nominal fees.
A vast cadre of frontline Para Legal Volunteers and Village Level Entrepreneurs belonging to the local CSC neighborhood assist in awareness generation and online registration of beneficiaries needing advice. To ensure seamless penetration in remote geographical hinterlands for better beneficiary coverage, the Department of Justice has also developed Tele-Law Mobile App for PLVs.
Highlighting the rapid expansion of the Tele-Law initiative, Mitra said, "Tele-Law began its humble journey in 2017 by covering 170 districts in 11 States through 1800 CSCs. In 2019, 115 Aspirational Districts were added taking the number of CSCs to 29,860. Department of Justice is proud that today Tele-Law is operational in 633 districts in 34 States/UTs covering 50,000 CSCs."
He further said that Tele-Law saw a surge of 369 per cent growth in the number of beneficiaries seeking legal advice during the last one year. This medium was extensively used by common citizens for asserting their rights and entitlements during the Covid Pandemic. We have touched a new milestone in June 2021 with more than 9.5 lakh citizens being benefited by Tele-Law.
Tele-Law programme is presently operational in 633 districts (including 115 Aspirational Districts) across 34 States/UTs through a network of 50,000 CSCs. The programme connects the disadvantaged and needy seeking legal advice from Panel Lawyers through an e-interface platform available in Common Service Centres(CSC).
Tele-Law is rightly moving in the direction of legal empowerment and in connecting the last mile through technology which is well documented in the booklet "Voices of the Beneficiaries". The e-edition of the first and second editions of the Voices of the beneficiaries was released in September 2020 and March 2021. The third edition along with the previous two editions was released by the Minister.
In his foreword to "Voices of the Beneficiaries" 3rd Edition, the Prasad underlined that the mainstreaming of legal aid underpins the precept of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, and Sabka Nyaya, as envisioned by the Prime Minister.
As per the ministry, inspired by the real-time stories and true events, a short film on Tele-Law: Reaching the Unreached, was also released. In addition, 6 specific capsules of approximately one minute on the beneficiaries from the States of Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, and UT of Kashmir have been developed highlighting the penetration and outreach of the programme.
Even though the Tele-law programme is technology-driven, its success is dependent on the working of field functionaries comprising of Village Level Entrepreneurs(VLEs), Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs), State Coordinators and Panel Lawyers. The event also marked the felicitation of twenty best performing field functionaries under these categories in five zones of the country, it said.
Three of these winners and coincidently all of them females were able to attend the event physically which shows Tele-law programme is truly a movement towards women legal empowerment, said the ministry.
The Union Minister interacted with the awardees and encouraged them to mobilize awareness, especially amongst the rural women and girls so that they could feel empowered. He underlined the importance of Tele Law as a tool for ensuring gender justice. (ANI)