International Bridges to Justice (India) in collaboration with Delhi State Legal Service Authority conducted a three day training workshop on 2nd – 4th June 2012 at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, for legal aid lawyers and jail visiting advocates. The first day began with the inauguration of the workshop by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Judge, Delhi High Court & Chairman, Delhi High Court Legal Service Committee. He emphasized about the up-gradation of education, as fundamental principles remain the same but areas of social and economic offences have widened, and training for lawyers is very important as during such training programmes one gets to know about alternative criminal justice systems. He went on to compare the American and Indian legal systems. He was of the view that, in USA there is very strong defense prosecution since people have equal merits but in India, the upper class access the best defense. It is here that Legal Service Authorities play a role to strengthen the system. The role of lawyers is important because people in custody do not even know their Rights.
The first day of the training continued with introduction of the 102 Legal Aids Lawyers from all the nine Districts of Delhi, followed by introduction of Mr. Ajay Verma, Fellow IBJ India & Ms. Kellie Krake, Training Director Geneva IBJ & Miss Deja Vishny Public Defender Trainer Wisconsin Public Defenders Office, USA. It dealt with teachings given by Kellie and Deja on the role of lawyers. Kellie noted down that we are here to take you beyond the law to practice to make it work for your client. Deja took over and started discussing what should the lawyers do, she emphasized on the attitude of empathy v. Warriors should be the attitude in every lawyer. According to her, as a public defender one should have passion and perseverance in order to get justice.
The day continued and the post lunch session articulated Client-Lawyer Interaction by Hon’ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal Judge Delhi High Court & Mr. Ajay Verma. Justice Mittal stressed that access to justice is the most basic human right, client interaction is essential to get factual information to get the desired result and as a lawyer, it is our duty to respect our clients and dignity of individual. Ajay focused on the common problem being faced by clients is that they feel they are not being heard. He laid down the point that “poor should not get poor justice’. The closing session of the 1st day was taken by Kellie and Deja on Trial Strategy, and according to Deja one should focus on developing the theory of the case; theory should take into account all the positive points of the case so that it will be easier and faster in providing justice to the client.
The Second day of the workshop began with a quick review of the previous day, and focused on Bail Provisions, Admissibility of Evidence obtained during Investigation and Evidence obtained during Trail and Assessing Evidence and Confession. In particular Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C Chopra (Retd) Member, National Legal Service Authority associated with Legal Aid for 25yrs, gave some suggestions on Bail Provisions. He advised against giving high and false hopes to their client.
It was followed by Justice J.R Midha, Judge, Delhi High Court; He shared his views on the entire criminal justice system, and as per his view criminal system should focus more on providing justice to the accused, discovery of truth is the guiding principle for any trial.
The session continued and Mr. K.K.Sud, Senior Advocate, took over, he spoke about crimes. According to him, petty crimes are being committed due to poverty and illiteracy among the people. He also recommended that for such workshops to be meaningful, they should include Judicial Officers, and also said that remuneration of the legal aids lawyers should be increased and one should study the difficulties faced by jail visiting advocates. He also emphasized that such workshops should serve as a platform for senior lawyers to help legal aid lawyers. The day ended with the session by Kellie and Deja on the topic of assessing evidence and confession. She focused on the point that confession is primarily obtained by torture, so we as a lawyer should fight against torture by police, she laid down some important points as to how a lawyer can fight against torture by police more effectively. Mock trial was also part of the session, wherein lawyers were asked to cross-examine the Magistrate who took the statement of the accused. Lastly, Deja showcased the Chapter Method of cross-examination and highlighted the points that should be considered while cross-examining a witness.
The last day of the training program began at 10a.m by an address by Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Senior advocate & Member, Delhi State Legal Service Authority. He discussed about the provisions of Examination of Prosecution and Defense Witnesses and he referred to three kinds of examination i.e. examination in-chief, cross-examination, re-examination. He made us realize how lawyers can be a strong support to criminal justice system, and his enthusiasm and passion was reflected in his stories.
After a short tea break, Hon’ble Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar, Judge Delhi High Court, a recognized face in the Legal Fraternity and Mr. Sushil Kumar, Senior Advocate took up the closing arguments of the defense. Mr. Sushil Kumar shared some of his personal experience with clients and participants felt that the information given by him was very good and will be very useful in future. Justice Muralidhar talked about various skills as to how a lawyer can communicate to the judge, a lawyer should not run away from the weakness of the case and difficulties of the closing arguments, preparation and conferencing with the client is very important before closing the arguments.
After lunch the workshop resumed with the final session on reflection on what was learned and developed during the three long days .This visioning exercise was conducted by Kellie and Ajay wherein the focus was on the Indian Legal system after 2025. This encouraged and motivated participants to take what they learned during the training and utilize it effectively in their respective practices.
The training program concluded on an inspiring note given by our diligent Judges, Justice Gita Mittal, Justice R.C. Chopra (Retd.) and Mr. Neeraj Kumar, IPS, Director General (Delhi Prison). Mr. Kumar talked about various social activities being held in the prison in order to provide economical up gradation and at least to fulfill their basic necessities of life, some mental activities such as yogas and meditation is also being conducted to provide mental relaxation. He ended on a note that consultation between the prison authorities and lawyers is required, so the infrastructure can be improved.
On the whole, participants left saying they would recommend the training to others because it was interesting and beneficial and they themselves are likely to attend another IBJ conference if given the opportunity to do so. The training concluded with the distribution of post survey forms which provided their feedback about the training Programme. The workshop was an effort to provide lawyers with all the knowledge and techniques, so that they will provide effective representation to their clients.