The government started a new legal aid programme at nearly 500 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar today.
The sources described the programme as a pilot before the rollout of a larger, national initiative. It did not specify a time frame.
The number of centres is set to double in the next phase, ultimately leading to the coverage of 1,800 panchayats across 10 states.
The new service, which the government refers to as the ‘Tele-Law’ scheme, is the product of a partnership between the law and IT ministries, each of which is headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The scheme aims to recruit all the female volunteers, placing one at each village centre. The lawyers involved are selected by the National Legal Services Authority, a central government body. They will be based in state capitals and communicate with villagers through video conferencing.
The platform will connect law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and NGOs working on legal aid and the empowerment of marginalized communities.
Tele-Law falls under the Access to Justice Project for Marginalized Persons, a UN program being handled in India by the Law Ministry.