Legal aid widened as domestic violence rises amid lockdown | India News

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Jun 6, 2020

NEW DELHI: The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has decided to open online legal assistance services by a panel of women lawyers in each district to come to the aid of victims of domestic violence and child abuse, which saw a major spike during the lockdown triggered by coronavirus outbreak.
Nalsa chief and senior-most SC judge, Justice N V Ramana, said, “One of the critical areas which came to our notice was the rising incidents of violence within the family itself. We also saw increasing instances of child abuse. During such times, when the victims cannot reach us, it is imperative for us to reach them.”
Acknowledging the urgency and criticality of reaching out to victims of domestic violence and children who have been abused, Justice Ramana said, “Nalsa has collaborated with state and district legal services authorities to establish ‘one stop centres’ (OSCs). Persistent efforts have been taken to provide legal assistance, through tele-services of female panel lawyers in every district.”
Addressing a nation-wide web-conference of officials from the three-tier legal aid services, the SC judge said, “Unfortunately, even though three months have passed, the situation is still not under control. Pursuant to the lockdown, thousands of people have lost their lives and livelihood, large-scale migration has taken place. The lockdown has itself created psychological issues and violence within the family. Women have been burdened with more work; children are unable to go to schools. Adding to that, working at home has also had its impact on family life.”
Justice Ramana flagged another important aspect of lockdown fallout – massive reverse migration of workers from workplaces to their homes in various states. “Massive reverse migration will invariably lead to increase in poverty, inequity and discrimination. The pandemic has also affected rights of women, children and senior citizens,” he said adding that this would require a more focussed approach of legal services authority personnel. “This calls for a persistent and target orientation action plan, which we all have to work out together,” he said.
The legal services authority has achieved significant success in getting the Supreme Court’s order for release of undertrial/convicts not accused of heinous offences on parole to decongest overcrowded jails during the pandemic to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among prison inmates.
Justice Ramana said state legal services authorities have assisted the SC-mandated high-powered committees to ensure release of nearly 80,000 prisoners – 58,797 undertrial prisoners and 20,972 convicts – on parole. “Legal aid and assistance have also been provided in 1,559 domestic violence cases to women, 16,391 convicts, 1,882 labourers and 310 tenants among others. Toll free National Legal Helpline 15100 remains fully functional so that no person in need of justice is denied the same,” he said.

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