Dr. S. Durgalakshmi (Interview)

Dr. S. Durgalakshmi (Interview)

Interview by 

Monisha Jogan B (Intern)


Dr. S. Durgalakshmi, M.L. Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Head of Free Legal Aid Clinic, Government Law College, Coimbatore.
Government Law College,
Coimbatore- 641046
Tamil Nadu.

About Interviewee

She is a gold medalist in Law both in the graduate and post graduate studies. A devoted, dedicated methodical and an outstanding product of this prestigious institution. Her ambition to join academic service was accomplished in the year July 2005 when she joined as a guest faculty. In July 2006, she joined in the prestigious School of Excellence in Law, The Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai and served there till August 2009, when she got into the services of this great institution. She has participated, presented papers and chaired in many national and international seminars and conferences and published many articles in reputed journals. She has prepared study materials for the certificate course in documentation in the subject “Stamp Duty”. She has edited a book titled “Silent Victims” – A study on violence against women ad children (Published by Victorious Publishers, India. She has done an empirical research for her Doctoral Thesis on “ Online Contracts – Legal Issues and Challenges – Confronting the Indian scenario”. For her kind and motherly care, she has been entrusted the duty of deputy warden of ladies hostel attached to the institution.

Monisha. B: Mam, tell me about this free legal aid clinic in brief.

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: This initiative has been started earlier in this Institution with active participation in spreading Legal awareness among all people hereby residing and also for beneficiary of law students to induce them their contribution towards society at large. This legal aid clinic was initiated so that mostly the tribal men residing in nearby would benefit with basic legal awareness and as an aid to those exploited without knowledge. It was started with the bonafide consent of the presided Principal of this prestigious institution and this clinic was supported by Coimbatore legal service authorities. Though this initiative lost its heat in recent years, we have so many programmes to boost up this clinic for the benefit of our society.

Monisha. B: Mam, how People could benefit from this clinic?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: We are in a society where people are more exploited as consumers, in business transactions, as producers, as labourers etc etc. We might know that we have rights but are not aware of the specific rights and the mode to claim for. This makes life miserable for men to carry on. They might be aware that Court could act as a redresser. But the expenses make them restrain in pain. This initiative could neither be expensive nor prolong its proceedings. It could act as a grand body for legal service orientation. The programmes conducted through this initiative might reach rural people and they could benefit legally and could earn the legal guarantee of being secured and protected.

Monisha. B: Mam, your initiative as a professor in this free legal aid clinic in College level

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: I work as a professor in this institution for about 8years and there is an academic role of teaching students about the free legal aid clinic. Indeed this is a part of academics in the 3rd year of Law course and there is separate paper i.e. Alternate Dispute Resolution and there is a task called Observation where students are made to follow the Court proceedings in the District Legal Aid. Last week 3 batches of each 50 students are made to attend this from our institution. Further the following week another group of students will be made to attend the programme. This was also supported by the Presiding sub-judge in charge of Tamil Nadu legal Service authority. Students are free to clarify their doubts with the official and are really benefitted. 

Monisha. B: Tell me the Students part in this initiative.

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: Our students are more active in their role of serving people with free legal awareness. The programmes were more prevalent two years ago. But the last year was that the overcast part in this initiative. But the plans to renew it are being carried on. As far as academics is concerned students are showing their good support and effort for their practical papers. The free legal aid too could run that smooth with such fruitful students we believe. They will be given tasks of approaching people and know their pros and cons. They are made to do case studies on each individual they approach and they are supposed to explain them the legal aid for their problems. 

Monisha. B: what is the Role of Higher Judiciary in legal aid and awareness in India?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: The role of Higher judiciary as being the protector of fundamental rights of citizen owe with guaranteeing right to free Legal Service under Article 21 of Constitution of India. There are Judgements which guarantee the prisoner the power to assign legal Counsel for Complete justice. As far as the Tamilnadu legal service authority is concerned, the free legal aid clinic in our institution had got its power and support through officials of the Coimbatore branch. The judiciary being the supreme protector of Individual’s rights always are with responsibility to support these initiatives.

Monisha. B: What is the role of Government in Legal aid and awareness in India?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: It is our Constitution which directed principles under Article 39A to provide for free legal aid. The government while making its policy be more crucial in its point serving people with legal awareness. Mere law without its enforcement is in vain. So the statutes like Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 be more effective by initiating legal awareness Campaign encouraging youth to participate in the programmes. The government can indeed allot funds to every College and provide with such facilities as necessary to run the clinic.

Monisha. B: Your views on present Legal aid and awareness in India

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: there are as much institutions, NGO’s, associations, groups which spread legal awareness in India. There are Consumer chairs in almost all Law Colleges which play their part in spreading consumer protection laws. There are women groups which bring more initiatives to spread women protection laws. The recent development in Legal awareness and aid are alarming. Our institution includes workshops, seminars and programmes as of spreading legal awareness through its Legal aid Clinic. It would be more pleasing if Non- law colleges initiate these programmes. 

Monisha. B: your views on effectiveness of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: This Act provides the criteria for giving legal services to the eligible persons like Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, beggar, women, victim  of  a  mass  disaster, industrial workmen etc. Legal Services Authorities after examining the eligibility criteria of an applicant provide him counsel at State expense, pay the required Court Fee in the Matter and bear all incidental expenses in connection with the case. The most important to note is that the person  to  whom  legal  aid  is  provided  is  not  called  upon  to  spend anything  on  the  litigation  once  it  is  supported  by  a  Legal  Services Authority. This is obviously a great policy made by the lawmakers.

Monisha. B: What are your views on present situation of PIL in India?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: The PIL, best legal remedy for a common, reminds me of the M.C.Mehta’s role in protecting the Environment. The Supreme court recently in 2011 held that when victims lack the capability to commence litigation, or their freedom to petition the court has been encroached they are guaranteed with the right to Public Interest Litigation. This is now being one of the common rights which everyone can access has reached its peak. As Legal Awareness initiators could use this weapon against the problems they face. Legal aid is not alone focussed on spreading legal awareness on public but as an aid to their problems. The best weapon or to more properly say “a life” to common man and free legal aids to protect their rights.

Monisha. B: What advice you would like to give to the future Advocates with regards to legal aid clinic?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: Being an advocate one should devote them to legal service. The core of our field is Social engineering and we know “salus populi est suprema lex”. Thus everyone in the legal field is with an obligation to fulfil i.e. to serve the society with the legal knowledge they gain. To the future advocates my advice would be that “they may use their knowledge to the good of the public” and spread more awareness. 

Monisha. B: what suggestion would you give to a “Probono Ambassador”?

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: The society needs student like you. Keep it up with your works and have patience in every work you do. Yes good end takes time and patience. But through hard work and perseverance anything is possible. Work sincerely to the tasks which are given to you. Be a mender of your society. May god bless you.

Monisha. B: Message to “Probono India”

Dr. Prof. Durgalakshmi: Good initiative towards legal aid and awareness. Make this platform more accessible. And take more and more responsibilities towards the good end of the society. Pursue this probono work and prosper with probono aftermath. 

Thanking you.