Interview with Dr. G. Mallikarjun, Assistant Professor at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad and Faculty Co-ordinator at NALSAR-Legal Aid Group

Interview with Dr. G. Mallikarjun, Assistant Professor at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad and Faculty Co-ordinator at NALSAR-Legal Aid Group

1. Tell me about yourself
I am Dr. G. Mallikarjun, Assistant Professor of Law, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.I did my LL.M (Spl. in Labour Laws) from Kakatiya University, Warangal, Telangana.I was awarded with Ph.D. degree in 2008 from Kakatiya University for my doctoral thesis titled “Contribution of International Labour Organisation to the Development of Human Rights”.Being a faculty member, I would like to say that NALSAR, being a premier law university, is striving to produce socially relevant and professionally competent lawyers. Our NALSAR-Legal Aid Group [N-LAG] is one of the initiatives taken by the University in furtherance of this goal. 

2. What is the importance of study of Socio-Legal issues in legal field?
A Socio Legal Study is an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the law in relevance to social issues and problems prevailing in given time so as to uphold the rule of law. Analysis of socio-legal aspects of society becomes pertinent while planning to reach out to people and offering legal aid. One cannot plan good programs to reach out to people unless he/she is aware of the societal issues and the people of the area that they are planning to reach out.

3. Tell me about your initiatives in legal aid & awareness field as a law student and now as professor
As an Academician, encouraging the students in organizing and participating village level legal aid clinics, apart from organizing sensitization programs on various legal issues such as maintenance, divorce and on succession rights.
During the times when I was student, it was rare to see such programs being designed to reach out to people and spread legal awareness. I always wanted to work in such organization, which works pro bono and is aimed to spread legal awareness, while helping the people with appropriate and timely legal advice. 
As a law professor,being involved with N-LAG is a very satisfying aspect of my work life. Engaging with enthusiastic students who work dedicatedly towards improving legal awareness is indeed something to cherish. I personally have been involved in some on-field outreaching programs and I had interacted with people who approached me for legal advice. It feels good to know that people are trusting in us and they approaching us to get legal advices on the issues they have. 

4. Tell us your students’ initiatives in legal aid, awareness, socio-legal issues.
We have established a called “Centre for Tribal and Land Rights” through the Centre we have been conducting and organizing training programs to Revenue officers, Forest officials, Police personnel, Sarpanches, on land and Revenue Laws. Further, we adopted few villages where our teams made a unique contribution by making those villages are less land dispute villages.

Our students take major interest in N-LAG and we have volunteers form all the years working in this group. It is a good to know that my students are interested in working with and for public. Such interest in such young age is appreciable. They keep in touch with the village heads and they deal with any questions that they receive and the senior students are involved in giving legal advice. They reach out to other professors in case they need any help with the issues that are brought to their notice. Our professors are always happy to help the students. Our volunteers design pamphlets in Telugu so that the people can understand their rights and laws easily and reach out to us in case of necessity. Our Telugu-speaking volunteers play an important role in making these pamphlets and on field, by reaching out to people directly. Even Mayukha (the interviewer) is one of them. She was involved in our door-to-door reaching out method and pamphlet making. 

5. What is the role of higher judiciary in legal aid & awareness in India?
Higher Judiciary must encourage and train the law students who are interested to work on socio-legal issues through its subordinate judiciary, who are in charge of State Legal Services. If possible, periodical works shops and training programs may be conducted with help of senior advocates and teachers who are having experience in Pro bono litigation. Internship opportunities and other such incentives for the students who actively participate in pro bono legal work can increase the participation in legal aid services. Junior advocates should also be encouraged to work on offering legal aid to the people in need. This can also be done in collaboration with legal educational institutions so that junior advocates can also mentor the students who are interested in the legal aid activities.  

6. What is the role of Government in legal aid & awareness in India?
Ignorance of law is not excused. Law being dynamic one should evolve and change to suit the existing societal norms. In India we have huge population with less legal literacy; thus,   it is a primary duty a legal fraternity to conduct regular legal awareness programs in the village. Every village there must be an active legal cell, which can guide and help the people on many aspects such as Goverment beneficiary schemes and certain laws in force.
N-LAG is working with Government at local level and we organize regular outreach programmes in the nearby villages. We constantly stay in touch with Sarpanches and Upasarpanches of the nearby villages and coordinate with them in organizing the awareness programmes, where our professors and students take active part. The local governmental officials are showing interest in such activities and they are working towards educating people in the villages by asking them to attend such programmes and gain knowledge about their rights.  

7. What are your views on present situation of legal aid and awareness initiatives in India?
As per my knowledge present legal aid clinics are functioning at minimal level of due to lack of infrastructure, staff and funds. Therefore, to strengthen the existing legal aid clinics, the adequate infrastructure, funds and committed people may be given to make them to serve for the needy.
The legal educational institutions, not just NLUs but also other institutions, should encourage their students to take part in legal services. Encourage in the sense, provide them with adequate infrastructure, fund and professional guidance. As per my experience, legal aid services at this level can be improved by these steps. 
Legal institutions should take active participation by starting free legal aid services and allotting sufficient staff and funds for such cells to function properly and help the people in getting easy, free and legitimate legal advice. One of the important steps in this process in to make people aware of the fact that such cells exist to provide them with appropriate legal advice and other necessary guidance. This is something that can be done at a preliminary level. The ambit of this can be widened by lawyers taking up pro bono cases and helping the people who reach them through the legal aid cell and this is just one of the examples of what can be done. 

8. What are your views on effectiveness of Legal Service Authority Act, 1987?
Legal Services Authority Act of 1987 is undoubtedly a wonderful enactment, as I have already discussed in earlier answers that most of the people do not know their legal rights. Organising frequent Sensitization programs on law will help the society. Apart from that basic knowledge of law must be introduced in all disciplines of education.

9. What are your views on present situation of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India?
The very of purpose opting for a legal profession is to react immediately on social problems. Public Interest Litigation gives an opportunity to the person, who is not directly affected by an incident, but wants to help the affected, to legally on behalf of the affected. Therefore, the present legal community should also focus on social problems to get proper legal solution to the given social problem, apart from their personal achievements and earnings. In the present scenario, the area of Public Interest Litigation is being used by the lawyers and activists, widely. This is a good sign for the legal system and the legal fraternity is also responding positively towards such approach. Public Interest Litigation has paved the way to judicial activism in India. We all are well aware of the changes that judicial activism has brought in the country. 

10. What advise you would like to give to the future Advocates/Professors/Scholars with regards to socio-legal issues, legal aid and awareness initiatives?
Lawyers, Legal Scholars, Professors all of them are considered as Social Engineers, who are required to have sound knowledge on theory and practice on law. One should inculcate helping attitude and should also follow legal ethics so that one would become a good asset to the society. Without these one cannot improve and help others in rendering legal services to the needy. Developing such attitude towards socio-legal work from the student level is one of the most necessary qualities of the future lawyers. 
My sincere advice to the legal fraternity is to encourage and educate the students in this process and take active participation in the field activity of legal aid. This would welcome people’s trust in the campaigns organized and the students can definitely use the help and guidance from the practicing advocates and the professors. 

11. Message to ProBono India
ProBono India is doing a commendable work. The organisation has understood its responsibility towards society and contributing in various ways to the society. I am glad to know that students, by being a part of ProBono India, are actively participating in legal aid work. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Keep up the good work. 

To contact the Legal Aid cell of NALSAR for any queries, write to us at