IBJ India together with Legal Bar Association of Neemrana and Behror Legal Association on 29th July’2012 organized a community outreach in Neemrana, Rajashthan. The Programme was held on NIIT University Campus Neemrana, Rajasthan and was started off by Mohan Lal Soni, Chief Judicial Magistrate of Neemrana. Mr. Soni started by  introducing IBJ India team which comprised of Mr. Ajay Verma, IBJ India Fellow; Mr. Avi Singh, Advocate, Supreme Court and the Interns. The participants of the community outreach were lawyers from Neemrana Bar Association, police department of Neemrana and some members of the community. The agenda of the day was to create legal rights awareness especially in regards to fair trial principles, legal aid, but as it was a Rural Community wherein Gram Nyayalaya Act, 2008 is applicable, its provisions were also dealt with.

Mr. Verma started by giving a brief introduction of IBJ as an organization and its mandate, which has been to provide effective legal representation to everyone and the vision that no one gets justice denied due to monetary or any other constraints. The aim of these events is not just to encourage and strengthen the training and knowledge of the participating lawyers, to take what they learn during the training and utilize it effectively in their respective practices, but also to ensure that everyone is well aware of their rights, as its only when you know the rights, that one can fight for them. Further he discussed the topic on hand – Gram Nyayalaya act 2008 and Lok Adalat, both of these justice delivery mechanisms have been designed to ensure swift deliver of justice, as they rely on providing fair trial and principles of natural justice are followed. He laid down the point of these being mobile Courts designed to provide justice at one’s door step. The provisions of fair trial and its application in each and every criminal trial, and how this is a right of every individual, were discussed.  Some of the rights that are present within the Right to fair trial are right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, right against self-incrimination or right to remain silent, right against inhuman/cruel treatment in jail, right to be aware ground of arrest, right to legal counsel/legal aid, right to bail, right to speedy trial, right against double jeopardy, right to reasoned judgment, right to be present at the trial.

The session continued with Mr. Avi Singh, sharing his view about various aspects of rights, but he also moved on to some provisions of environment law considering the fact that environment week was going on at the Campus. He talked about the provisions of Environment Protection Act 1986, Aravalli Notification, forest conservation act, under which it states that any forest notified or not are not allowed to be cut off any trees under any conditions and also the sustainable development of any project should be established according to the benefit of natural environment. He also grazed through the doctrine of public trust, intergeneration trust, and land acquisition act considering it to be our constitutional right. An important question that arose during the session was why instead of all this rules for the protection of nature there still exist no changes? Application of environmental impact assessment, a necessity in today’s world according to which we as a citizen should start asking questions and purpose to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts when deciding whether to proceed with a project.

The next speaker Mr. Hukum Chand Singh, one of the lawyers and he discussed briefly the Gram Nyayalaya Act, and shared his views regarding how the present system can be improved. According to him gram nyayalaya had been established to deliver justice; but there is a need to provide security and decorum in the delivery of the judgment, so that people participating are not able to hinder the delivery of justice. He appreciated the work of legal aid organizations in enabling justice and its necessity to should be made available in all places. After a tea break, the session resumed with Mr. Soni discussing the importance of legal awareness, as one of the basic premise of the law is that ignorance of fact may excused but not ignorance of law, thus it becomes extremely important to provide legal awareness in a world where legal phraseology is complex and amendments are the norm. It is imperative to understand that in order to ensure that the idea of legal aid to all and the concept of access to Justice for all, because of monetary constraints can only be ensured, if effective mechanisms are in place and they are implemented.

Mechanisms such as Gram Nyayalayas ensure that justice is provided at door steps, with minimum costs, less time lags and minimum complexities. Similarly, Lok Adalats ensure that matters are disposed in a quick and inexpensive manner.  It is also pertinent to point out that these justice delivery mechanisms are not bound by the complex legal principles but rely on the principle of natural justice which provides the presiding officer with the discretion to ensure that justice is delivered keeping in mind the local complexities. However, this also needs a cautious approach to ensure that discretion does not take on the garb of arbitrary. Mr. Ravinder Samria, Advocate touched briefly on the topic of Labour welfare, and to make the common people aware of their rights. As Neemrana is developing into an industrial zone, all the individuals need to recognize and know their rights under the Constitution so no big industries can take advantage of them, due to their ignorance. Awareness about the various legal options that are available with an individual can help improve the living standard and conditions of the common man. The event ended with a vote of thanks to all the participants for contributing to this event and IBJ India for making an effort to bring about the changes by spreading legal awareness.