Interview with Dr. Kanchal Gupta, Assistant Professor of Law & Faculty Coordinator Legal Aid Centre, School of Law, UPES Dehradun

Interview with Dr. Kanchal Gupta, Assistant Professor of Law & Faculty Coordinator Legal Aid Centre, School of Law, UPES Dehradun

Interviewed by :- Nandini Acharya, 5th Year, School of Law, UPES Dehradun

1. Tell me about yourself in brief.

I am Dr Kanchal Gupta an academician from 2007. I am holding experience of 16 years which includes my years in academics and industry. I completed my LLB in 2004 from Regional Centre Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar then I pursued LLM & PhD from Kurukshetra University. Further I completed two masters i.e. MA in Political Science and MA in police administration. 

To my credit, I have 12 publications, presented papers in 27 conference and workshops, organized various moot court competition, workshops and seminars. I am a member of the permanent Lok Adalat in District Court, Jalandhar, Punjab. 

I have been working as the Coordinator of Legal Aid Clinic since 2007 from my first institution.

I am presently working as Faculty Coordinator of Legal Aid Clinic, School of Law, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies. I joined UPES in January 2020 as Assistant Professor-Selection Grade.
UPES is one of the premier universities providing courses in Law with distinguished specializations. They are producing world class professionals for the entire legal field. UPES is working for imparting legal aid since the year of their establishment.

2. What is the importance of study of Socio Legal issues in legal field?

Socio Legal Issues are the inter-disciplinary studies. They teach the different aspects of society which should be taught to every student. Through that students will be able to reach out to people on a more personal level and they become their helping hands. This way they can contribute more to the underprivileged.

3. Tell me about your initiatives in legal aid & awareness field as a law student and now as a faculty.

As a Professor and Faculty Convener, I have arranged various Legal Aid Camps on various legal issues. We had fixed timings everyday and people would come up to us for help. We gave them legal advice, drafted complaints and helped them in any manner we could.  We also organised a Lok Adalat.

We have also organized two session along with the District Legal Services Authority; one was them was with PAN India in relation to collection of data of under trial prisoners and another was JAAGO PROJECT, in this project we spread awareness in terms of sanitation, literacy and how everyone should be treated equally to the residents of villages adopted by DLSA We focussed on teaching them their right to education and tried to solve their problems as much as we could.

4. Tell me your students’ initiatives in legal aid, awareness, socio-legal issues.

My student team have always been involved in imparting legal education to the people around them. Here in UPES, a lot of camps and awareness workshops have been organized on Child Education and its importance, Prevention of Land Disputes, Right to Vote, Rights of Women and Children through the way of Nukkad Natak, poetries, dances and other cultural events.

In the present scenario, where all of us are amidst a pandemic, we have successfully organised a Poster Making Competition for government and private school students, a training workshop on the working of the Legal Aid Clinic and its perspectives, Dr Kalpeshkumar Sir also conducted a Training Session on Functioning of Legal Aid Clinic. We are planning to conduct a Legal Symposium in association with District Legal Services Authority, Dehradun in the coming days.

5. What is the role of higher judiciary in legal aid & awareness in India?

Judiciary is an important wing where justice prevails. Judges play a very active role in the development of human rights and basic rights jurisprudence. The higher judiciary is having impact upon the newly appointed judges. National Legal Services Authority. States Legal Service Authority and District Legal Services Authority are helping in spreading legal awareness and are the guiding forces at the grass root level.

6. What is the role of Government in legal aid & awareness in India?

The government ensures everyone should have access to justice without any sort of discrimination and basic principles of the constitution should be followed. Ensuring justice is delivered at the doorstep to each and every person especially for the underprivileged level and adhering to Article 39A which ensures equal justice and free legal aid.

By passing the law and ensuring implementation the government makes sure that no should be deprived of justice at any level and money should not be a hindrance for seeking justice.

7. What are your views on present situation of legal aid and awareness initiatives in India?

As providing legal aid is the duty of the date, Government has passed many laws and ensured to comply with the provisions of the Constitution (Article 39A). But there are still various steps that have to be taken for the same to reach the actually needy people.

For the present scenario of Covid 19, Virtual Lok Adalat is a great initiative and the DLSA is ensuring that they must reach out to people at their doorstep with the help of public officials.

8. What are your views on effectiveness of Legal Service Authority Act, 1987?

The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 was passed to provide justice to each and every individual without discrimination. Poor people who cannot come to court should be encouraged and taught about their basic rights. I feel the act is effectively trying to help citizen’s especially weaker sections, women and children so that their rights can be taken care of.

9. What are your views on present situation of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India?

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) can be filed where large public is involved and for that the person does not have to be a victim. 

Justice PN Bhagwati first introduced this to India and astonishing results have come since then with the use of it and things have changed tremendously in a positive manner. But as we speak, there are still a number of issues which can be resolved through a PIL and a lot of scope is there in other areas of law, as we have only discovered two large areas, environmental issues and construction related issues.

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?

If I talk about the role of advocates, they should take care of the administration of justice. While in reality their focus is more on making money than resolving the issue. If they do their work with honesty then they can bring a great change in the legal system and the pending cases can be resolved in the initial level itself.

Scholars by the way of their research and opinion, recommend changes to the government and how the existing loop holes can be eliminated.

Professors have a crucial role in shaping the future of the nation. Thus imparting legal basic legal knowledge to every student from school level will contribute to a massive change in everyone knowing their basic rights and no one can be deprived of justice. 

11. Message to Pro Bono India

I am grateful to Pro Bono India for bringing such an initiative which no one before had thought of. It has brought a great change to the aspects of legal aid. I wish them all the best for their future endeavours.