International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in collaboration with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) organized a two day workshop on August 20-21’2011 at Hotel Mapple Abhay, Jodhpur. The focus of the workshop was to provide an opportunity to the lawyers working in a trial courts at Jodhpur to enhance and develop their skills, so as to give effective representation to the accused. A group of 45 lawyers from Jodhpur as well as Six Lawyers from Alwar were present to seep the benefits of the workshop. The event was kick started by a Welcome Note by Ms. Susheel, Volunteer with CHRI, which was followed by elucidating the rules of the workshop, and lastly, a game with an intention to break the ice.
First Session of the workshop dealt with Rights and Problems of the Accused behind Bars, and was chaired by Mr. R. K. Saxena, Former Inspector General, Rajasthan Prisons and Honorary Consultant with CHRI. He started the discussion by focusing on the premise that every individual is innocent until proven guilty and is required to be dealt with accordingly; also, the problems faced by under trials were stressed. The questions that followed the discussion were answered effectively and to the satisfaction of the participants. The following session focused on Client Interview and was moderated by Mr. Ajay Verma. Mr. Verma made the session interactive from the very beginning by starting qawwali session, wherein, the participants were divided in two groups of lawyer and client, and were asked to sit on opposite sides. What followed was an active discussion from both sides that revealed the problems that a client or a lawyer might face while interacting with each other. It was emphasized by Mr. Verma that it is necessary to build a relationship with the client and the importance of showing concern to the client and the case. In other words, the client should not feel that he/she is merely another file to the lawyer as this leads to poor getting poor justice and effective advocates remain out of reach to them.
The day continued and the post-lunch session articulated the Duties of Defence Lawyer, and the same was jointly chaired by Mr. Anshuman Saxena, an Advocate in Rajasthan High Court, and Mr. Ajay Verma. All the duties as laid down by the Bar Council were enumerated and, further the requirements that a lawyer should fulfill, when the client is poor, in order to give provide effective representation were discussed. An insight was shared by Mr. Saxena, wherein he mentioned that a proper legal aid case can work as a spark for you and it will open the gate for many cases. Last session of the first day was by Ms. Aarthi Ranjan, an advocate, and dealt with Elements of Fair Trial. The day ended on the note that fast track courts does not mean fast track convictions but fast track judgments, as fair trial also means a trial without undue delay.
Second day of the workshop started with a recap of previous day, and a session dealing with Common Illegalities – Standards, Practices and Remedies followed. This session was led Ms. Abha Joshi, Advocate and an Activist, and the same was informative in respect of various illegalities that are suffered by the undertrials or even convicts. The center of this session were four case studies that were distributed amongst the lawyers present and the discussion was on the basis of the same. These four case studies were of a juvenile accused of theft, a life term convict who was tortured in jail, a Dalit undertrial who died while in judicial custody, and lastly, of an accused who was encountered when he tried to abscond. It was pointed out by Ms. Joshi that illegalities occur everywhere and it is the duty of a lawyer to challenge them. Another point of importance that was spoken about was Plea-bargaining, and how the lawyers should not agree to something that they might regret at a later date. A documentary called ‘Bol Basanto’ was screened for the audience and the same dealt with the atrocities committed by police officials. The message highlighted in the documentary was that the police is not above law but is for the protection of law.
The last session of the workshop was a Panel Discussion on Common Practices that Contribute to Delays. The Panel was constituted of Ms. Joshi, Mr. Verma and Mr. R.K. Saxena and was moderated by Mr. Anshuman Saxena. The ways to deal with delays were discussed and to rectify them in the best interest of the client. The lack of a Magistrate or a Police Official in the Panel was felt, as that would have provided insight of the other side as well.
The workshop concluded by presentation of gifts to the resource persons as a token of appreciation and gratitude by Mr. Mohun. A promise was made by the advocates present to implement the insight provided by the workshop in their endeavor to become successful trial court advocate