All India Legal Aid Cell on Child Rights
(Established by Delhi Legal Services Authority and Bachpan Bachao Andolan under the Aegis of National Legal Services Authority)
On 14th November 2008, Hon’ble Sh. K.G Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India and Patron-in-Chief , National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), Hon’ble Dr Arijit Pasayat, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Hon’ble Executive Chairman, NALSA and other Hon’ble judges of Supreme Court of India had interaction with the rescued and rehabilitated children of BBA at the lawns of the Supreme Court of India. The Hon’ble Chief Justice and other Hon’ble Judges ensured that prompt and appropriate legal aid will be given to them. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and Hon’ble Executive Chairman, NALSA have subsequently directed the NALSA to direct the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to take necessary action for opening a Legal Aid Cell at the Bachpan Bachao Andolan Central Office, New Delhi and also at Mukti Ashram, Ibrahimpur, Delhi.
BACHPAN BACHAO ANDOLAN
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has been working tirelessly since 1981 to rescue, and rehabilitate child labourers and ensure prosecution and punishment of employers and traffickers. Since inception, BBA has rescued more than 76,500 bonded/ child labourers and has emerged as the largest civil society grassroots movement on child rights supported by more that 70,000 individuals and 750 civil society organisations. The organization has also been working very closely with National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) in favour of child rights on several fronts.
National Legal Services Authority, Delhi Legal Services Authority and Bachpan Bachao Andolan have joined hands to realise the cherished Constitutional ideal of equality and justice to child sine qua non of creation of a Child Friendly Society where every child has access to physical, social, psychological, moral & spiritual development. Permanent Legal Aid Cell would be a PAN – INDIA activity to achieve the following objectives:
- To establish a Permanent Legal Aid Cell at the at Bachpan Bachao Andolan Central Office, New Delhi and also at Mukti Ashram, Ibrahimpur, Delhi;
- To provide legal representation to the children in need of care and protection across the country;
- To take, deal, pursue and/ or coordinate and ensure prosecution against the persons indulging in child labour, traffic in human beings, begar, forced labour, child abuse, or in any form of child exploitation;
- To build a network of various SLSAs for rescue and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection.
- To instruct the concerned State Legal Services Authority to take, deal, pursue and coordinate to ensure appropriate legal action against the offenders.
- To provide access to legal aid & advice to all Govt. Departments and/or bodies including State Legal Services Authorities functioning across the country;
- To provide legal aid and advice to all civil societies, voluntary organisations and social spirited individuals working across the country espousing the cause of child rights;
- To coordinate with all Govt. Bodies, Institutions, Authorities and Organisations concerning or entrusted with the responsibilities relating to child rights,
- To reach out the benefits flowing from various social welfare schemes to the child/children.
- To create awareness of child rights and schemes framed by Central and/ or State Governments for the welfare and rights of children;
- To undertake sensitization programs, for skill enhancement of lawyers and / or paralegals;
- To undertake research or survey based programs to study the impact assessment and maximize befits of child welfare legislations and schemes;
The Permanent Legal Aid Cell shall function from Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s Central Office at L – 6, Kalkaji, New Delhi and Mukti Ashram, Ibrahimpur Village, Delhi.
FUNCTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
The Legal Aid Cell will perform the following Functions and Activities:
Children in need of immediate assistance shall be provided with such care and protection as required by law. Any such action shall be in accordance with the procedures established by law and may be through complaints/ representation before various authorities of law enforcement and/ or other social justice and welfare mechanisms and courts of law. For e.g., the Cell may receive a complaint of a trafficked child being abused and acting upon the case, the Cell may send a person with the legal opinion on the course of action to be taken by the Police/ Magistrate/ other relevant authority for appropriate action for rescue of child, prosecution of trafficker and rehabilitation of child.
The Cell will also coordinate with SLSAs to provide suitable legal aid to pursue cases. SLSAs shall provide suitable legal support in their respective cases.
Complainants in need of legal aid/ assistance/ advice in cases of violations of child rights may seek all aid/ assistance from the Legal Aid Cell, even for pursuing cases filed for the prosecution of child traffickers, etc., by counseling the child/ witnesses who are the victims, so that they are able to testify in court without fear. Psychological support in such cases can also be extended.
The Cell shall render such aid/ assistance/ advice to the complainant as well as send its legal opinion in such cases to the concerned govt. authorities for suitable action. Governmental and Non Govt. Organisations, Civil Societies, Self Help Groups, Voluntary Organisations, Parents, Relatives, Concerned Friends and Members of the public may, on behalf of the Children in need of care & protection, approach the Cell and receive legal advice regarding the legal rights of children and the means for accessing those rights. The Cell will provide requisite information and advice to the concerned regarding the legal options available for protecting the interest of the children. The Cell will also assist the concerned in making a decision regarding various options available to pursue the case and if required help in formulation of complaints, petitions, etc. ;
Steps will be taken for sensitization of Judicial officers, Govt. officers, Police officers, etc. and conduct skill enhancement programs for panel lawyers.
- Coordination with all SLSAs and Govt. Departments
The Cell will operate a Network Referral System, whereby victims can be referred to the State Legal Services Authorities for legal services in resolving legal issues. If a information is received by the Cell about an offence committed or likely to be committed in another State, the concerned SLSA would be informed and requested to render all assistance in the case and to further submit an action take report, for effective coordination. Also a person in need of help, who is located in another State, can be directed by the Cell towards the nearest point of assistance in that State. The Cell will actively build this network and stimulate the free flow of information and constructive thinking concerning child rights in India.
- Undertake Research based survey and make suitable suggestions
The Cell shall take up Research based surveys and make suitable suggestions to the Central or State Governments for effective implementation of laws on child rights especially dealing with prohibition of Child Labour and ensuring social re-integration and rehabilitation.
- Publication of informative legal material for general awareness like handbills, pamphlets, etc., for general awareness.
- Academic activities including development of Standard Operating Procedures, legal rules and guidelines on specific cases, publication of periodical newsletter, etc.
- Periodical reporting of follow up actions about rescued/ assisted children shall be undertaken by the Legal Aid Cell. State Legal Services Authorities and/ or other govt. authorities will apprise and assist the Cell in cases of follow up.
- Information Collection and Data Management: The Legal Aid Cell will collect complaints and other information regarding cases of the violation of child rights from various sources and all data concerning cases will be recorded in a database system of BBA, for the sake of the correct and mutually comparable recording of relevant data.
NETWORKING AND INTEGRATION WITH GOVERNMENT MECHANISMS OR SCHEMES
The Cell will adopt a cross-cutting approach in assistance by ensuring that the Cell works in close partnership with all other child rights actions and Government Mechanisms and Schemes.
In seeking information regarding government schemes and orders for the purposes of ensuring access to information and justice during its operation the Cell will collaborate with various government departments, including the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development as well as other Committees and Commissions established under various statutory provisions. The Cell will work towards ensuring access to information and justice to children during the course of its operation. To this end, every governmental agency associated on child rights will designate a nodal officer who shall provide such information to the Cell to ensure that accurate and updated information is provided in cases.
NALSA may also request the Central Government or State Governments to appoint one representative of the Legal Aid Cell as member of core groups formulated for implementation and monitoring of various schemes at Central and/ or State level for child rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
The opinions of the expert body of the Legal Aid Cell shall be considered in the drafting/ preparation of any new law/ policy for betterment of child rights.
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO ACT ON THE ADVICE OF THE LEGAL AID CELL
In cases where the advice of the Legal Aid Cell is not adhered to, besides taking recourse to appropriate legal action including filing writ petition or any other proceeding in accordance with law in cases of rescue, rehabilitation of children and prosecution of the employers/ traffickers/ violators by the SLSAs or any govt. authority, NALSA shall take up the matter with the concerned Authorities or Central/ State Govt. as the case maybe.