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Internship Experience of C M Vaishnavi, Student of Parul Institute of Law, Vadodara with Chittoor District Legal Services Authority, AP

 “Manav Seva hi Ishwar Seva hai” which means “The service of Human is and equivalent to the service of God”. I couldn’t realize this unless I started working for it. 
I was taught by my parents since childhood to work for the people and I gradually developed this as my passion.

There were and still are times where I dream of working in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, but then I taught why not legal services authorities? I believe that this question has led me to an exciting and challenging journey of my professional life. I hail from Puttur which is a Mandal under Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh. I eagerly checked if there was any internship being offered by the District Legal Services Authority, Chittoor. Then, I mailed to the Hon’ble Secretary-cum-Senior Civil Judge of DLSA, Chittoor along with my resume to offer me an internship. After much deliberation, I received the approval of the Hon’ble Principal Dist. & Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman of DLSA Chittoor. 

Before my approval, I approached in person for my internship. When I reached the venue, I came to know that awareness campaigns were being conducted on various socio-legal issues as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav on completing 75 years of independence and on 25 years of the inception of NALSA. Also, I was asked to speak few words on Human Trafficking and I did so. The dignitaries were IPS officers, SP’s, Advocates and the common public were Anganwadi workers. 

I was the first law student to work as an intern at DLSA, Chittoor. My internship started on 22nd of October. My first task was to create legal awareness in schools and Public offices. Then, I visited the Sachivalaya and Government Schools of Puttur and I spoke on Women and Child Rights. 

The very next day, I visited the Zilla Parishad meeting hall and I was given the task of anchoring the Pan India Awareness and Outreach Programme on Unorganized sector. The Hon’ble Principal District Judge chaired the session along with Deputy Labour Commissioner and Labour officers of different circles of Chittoor District. Many documentaries were played on Labour laws in order to create awareness among the unorganized sector. In addition to, motivational songs were played to motivate the workers of this sector. Later, the Deputy Labour Commissioner addressed the grievances of the workers and they also assured to redress them. On the conclusion of the programme, E-Shram cards were distributed to the workers and the Carpenter’s association of Chittoor made a plea to the dignitaries. In my view, due to time bound many issues couldn’t be addressed but the authorities made maximum efforts to cover them and also asked them to visit in person to the Labour office. 

On the occasion of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the legal services authorities were asked to conduct Pan India awareness and Outreach Programmes, door-to-door campaigns, social surveys and exhibitions. This programme commenced on 2nd of Oct and accomplished on 14th of November.

I visited the office of DLSA and studied various schemes of NALSA. I didn’t have the exposure to those schemes earlier but I acquired basic knowledge after going through them. From this day my work of Social Surveys had begun. 

I conducted my first social survey in Municipal Colony of Urban Chittoor. The main objective of the survey was to identify a social problem which the localites faced such as Child Marriage, Child Labour, Unemployment, Illiteracy, Dowry, etc. or which they believe that such problem is an evil to the society and to eradicate the same. Many people were not responsive but the man in this picture offered us with a glass of water and answered to all our questions. They all were municipal workers and they received all the welfare schemes that were applicable to them. 

During the survey, there was another woman whose daughter was suffering from Thalassemia Major and she said that the pension was not passed by the Sachivalaya. When we asked her to make an application to DLSA for instantaneous relief, she refused to provide us with the same. The biggest social problem which I found was despite have many laws and schemes for the people, still few of them fear as to what shall happen if at all they approach these authorities. Even if justice is available to them, they are not making proper access of it.  

There are 13 Mandal Legal Services Committees under Chittoor District. The Hon’ble Secretary of DLSA covered 10 camps in each Mandal.

When it was the turn of Puttur Mandal, I visited Govt. Junior college of Karvetinagaram, Venkatesa Perumal Engineering & Technology college and Himaja School of Puttur. Before the Judicial officers could reach the Junior college, I taught the students about Judiciary and its hierarchy, legal services authorities and under whose jurisdiction they fell and the purpose of Pan India  Awareness and outreach programme. I also observed the kind of awareness that was provided to the students and they also showed their keen interest. 
The following day legal awareness camps were conducted in Nagari Mandal. I performed social survey in Chinthalapatteda Village which comes under Nagari rural. When I asked the people of this village as to what was their social problem, few of them said we don’t have any problem but when I reached to the elders they said they have water problem. The water they drink stinks a lot and at times it is not even clean. The water tank of their village is about to fall. After completion of my survey, I visited the Hon’ble Secretary-cum-Senior Civil Judge of DLSA, and Sir immediately spoke to the Municipal Commissioner and other administrative authorities to resolve the problem. The Municipal Commissioner said they have invited tenders either for destruction/ alteration/ construction of a new tank.

 Unemployment was one of the major issue of their village. The livelihood of this village is handloom. They use the charkha to weave woolen. They also said that due to upgradation in technology, businessmen don’t approach them to place orders and they are worst hit due to COVID-19 pandemic. Also, if one has more power consumption in their houses, they lose their ration cards and Old Age Pension. The last problem which came to my knowledge was lack of transportation inside their village. They have to walk 2 miles to reach to the main road.

In my observation, there was rural urban division between the above conducted social surveys. Even after 25 years of the inception of NALSA, they were not aware of legal services authorities and the concept of Free legal aid. These schemes and legal aid are known majorly to the litigants and the people living in the urban area. In the above village, I taught them about legal services authorities and their functions such as free legal aid and Lok Adalat. 

Furthermore, we visited RTC bus stand of Nagari Mandal. The grievances of the workers belonging to different trade unions were redressed on the spot by the Hon’ble Secretary. They were made aware about legal services authorities and NALSA theme song was played. 

Simultaneously, we made a visit to Government school and they were taught about Lok Adalat. I also had the opportunity to teach them about Lok Adalat and Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

In the evening, we made a visit to a garment factory which was also my first visit to a factory. The Hon’ble Secretary asked the chairman about the compliance of Labour laws in the factory. The theme song of NALSA was played to them and they were made aware of legal services authorities. We made a request to do something for the village with regard to clean water and they made a commendatory approach. They said that they shall make necessary efforts to revive the same under their community development projects. 

Thereafter, we made a visit to SIREEDS Disabilities Home and saw the efforts of the caretakers towards the disabled. Majority of them were mentally disabled than mentally ill. It took a lot of courage to perform ten camps a day each Mandal and it has definitely not been a cake walk for all of us. 

After these camps, I started sitting in the Front Office. This is that place of DLSA office where free legal aid is provided to the people by a retainer advocate. The retainer was a knowledgeable Senior Advocate and could provide instantaneous advice to their problems. I could witness many people coming forward 

At the end, I drew the design for NALSA’s exhibition which was as a part of Legal Services Week celebration. The exhibition took place in the District Court of Chittoor from 8th to 14th of November. The stalls of various departments of the Govt. of AP were displayed and it was made open to the public. 

I would say that this exhibition constitutes favorite part of my internship. There was no question of getting bored. The exhibition was not only eye-catchy but was also very insightful. I visited each and every stall. I spent at least 20-25 minutes for interaction with the members of each stall. I came to know about their functions, their initiatives and also the laws that were applicable on them. On that day, I realized that this was my real legal education. 

There were 23 stalls from various departments. Starting with DLSA Stall, handbooks on law relating to women, pamphlets on Rights of an arrested person (pre and post arrest), NALSA (Elimination of Poverty) Act, 2015 and SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2013, banners on stopping Child Abuse, Child Marriage, Sexual abuse and Helpline number for complaints relating to railways were displayed. The position of the retainer advocate gained prominence in the stall by making it even more easier for the people to approach for legal aid. 

During my internship period, I was hapless to witness the proceedings of Mediation while I had the opportunity to see the seating arrangement of the Mediator and the parties and came to know about the process of mediation. In the past, I worked in the District Court of Vadodara for Lok Adalat whereas here in Chittoor Lok Adalat is scheduled in December due to which won’t be able to witness the proceedings. 

In the stall of Department of Prison, I came to know about an initiative titled “SUDHAR”. The objective of this initiative is to make a crime free society. This is a rehabilitative initiative by the Government where all the products that are essential for a person to lead a dignified life such as Pillow, Shirt, Trouser, Durry, Blanket, mats, plates, bowls, glass, soaps for bathing and washing, washing powder for clothes are made by the prisoners. These works are carried in the Jails of Vishakapatnam, Rajamundry and Kadapa. The products made by them are sent to other jails of Andhra Pradesh. The imprisonment of a convict is reduced by 3 months on account of his/her good conduct in the Jail. I observed the difference in clothing for a person in remand and that of a convicted person. A plain white shirt and trouser belonged to a person in remand. If a blue line is added to the former, then it would turn into the attire of a convict. The Government incurs Rs.80-90 per person a day for their food. They have different diet charts for different food.   

The third stall which I was visited was that of District Social Welfare Department. This department primarily works for the welfare of the students. The students from class 3-10 are supplied with notebooks, bags and games (once in 3-4 years). The students living in the hostels of Govt. schools are provided with clothes, towels, plates, tumblers, bedsheets, belts, school uniforms and shoes. I was told about Jagananna Vasathi Deevena Vidya Deevena scheme. Under this scheme, BPL students pursuing ITI, Polytechnic and PG are provided with Rs.10000, 15000 and 20000 respectively. If the fee structure of the students pursuing the above courses is less than Rs.2 and half lakh, then they are also provided with full fee reimbursement. 

When I visited Mandal Parishad Development Office stall, I saw the banners of various schemes being displayed throughout. They explained me each scheme and the benefits that can be availed by the public at large. The names of few of the schemes that I learnt are as follows: YSR Pension Kanuka, YSR Vahana Mitra, YSR Cheyutha, Navaratnalu scheme, Jagananna Vidya Deevena, Jagananna Vasthi Deevena, Jagananna Pedhodu, Jagananna Amma Vodi, YSR Raytu Barosa, Peddalu andriki Illu, YSR Asara, YSR Kapu Nesam, YSR EBC Nesam and Jagananna Vidya Kanuka. 
The stall of District Police Department was placed in three divisions- Traffic Police, Cyber Police and DISHA Police.   In Traffic Police Department, I witnessed the machine use to detect the amount of alcohol a person has consumed, Body worn camera, reflected jacket, battery light and ceremonial hand gloves. I learnt traffic symbols being classified into Mandatory       Cautionary and Informatory    

From Cyber Police Department, I came to know about LHMS (Locked House Monitoring System). If a house is going to be locked for certain duration, for instance 7-10 days, the resident of the house can approach Cyber Police for LHMS system. On information, the Cyber Police shall establish the device and the house will be under surveillance in order to prevent from occurrence of crimes.  As a part of Cyber Police, Blue courts and Rakshaks are established in each Mandal. 

From DISHA Police, I was made known of DISHA App and their success stories.

E-Courts/Virtual Courts is one of the most important stall that belongs to our legal fraternity. During the pandemic, the usage of apps such as Virtual courts and E-Courts had been frequent. The app of Virtual Courts is meant for hearing arguments of the Petitioner and Respondent while in E-Courts services app, one can access the case history, the date for next hearing, the copy of the Judgment after entering either the Case Number or the name of the parties or the name of the advocates. There are other apps such as E-Filing in which a case can be filed online and E-Pay is used for paying Court fees online. A system officer and 2 system assistants are appointed by the HC for every district to manage the systems of the court. Their duty is to provide computers to each court and they connect the servers from the Principal District Court to High Court.

Throughout my Internship, I had to travel 150 kms a day. I travelled in government buses and with this I came in contact with the common public. I could witness some of their common problems and stood up for them. This internship was definitely not an easy one but it was self-satisfactory. I made an assurance in Human Trafficking awareness programme that in case if they are in need of any legal help, they can either approach any law school or a law student for guidance.

On the last day of my internship, I submitted all my reports based on the functions that I undertook. Since, DLSA works on Free Legal Aid, henceforth I handed over the copy of Case Compilation on Article 39A made by Team ProBono India. Finally, I was interviewed by the Hon’ble Secretary-cum-Senior Civil Judge, Shri. I. Karuna Kumar regarding my experience working with DLSA Chittoor. These Legal Services Authorities aren’t merely confined to Legal Aid but they deal a lot more with awareness campaigns, Surveys and Alternative Dispute Resolutions, etc. My experience of working with DLSA will be long lived and a place to downright knowledge. 

I personally request all the law students and professors to take up the initiative of spreading legal awareness, providing legal services and to stand up for the people when they are in indispensable need. Some know law and some of us should become law in order to be in a position to teach the unknown and let’s stand in the latter category.