PUNE: It started as part of an initiative to promote a continuing legal education programme for young lawyers, law students and judges. The ‘Free Legal Aid Centre on Family Matters’ at Bharati Vidyapeeth’s New Law College (NLC) here has since emerged as a viable platform for individuals to get their family matters resolved amicably, through counselling by legal professionals and academicians.
On Tuesday, the centre completed two years since its inception. It has, so far, played a key role in resolving 415 family matters. All this was done at the pre-litigation stage so that the warring parties avoided the time-consuming rigours of litigation in court and the associated costs.
Through awareness programmes on personal and gender justice laws, the centre has been drawing the attention of individuals in need of counselling or legal advice to enrol their names with it and get their family matters resolved with confidentiality. “Often, people are reluctant to share their information and want confidentiality while seeking free legal advice,” observed NLC dean and principal Mukund Sarda.
Once enrolled, the individual and the party with whom he/she has a dispute are provided counselling or legal advice by one of the centre’s 20 empanelled lawyers, who specialise in family court matters. In case of a solution arrived at the end of such exercise, the parties are required to sign a document of settlement endorsing the resolution of their dispute. “The document extends a moral binding on the parties to adhere to the solution,” said Sapna Deo, the centre’s legal aid coordinator.
While the focus remains on pre-litigation matters, the centre also extends services of lawyers to individuals who may still want to approach the court. “Most of the matters reaching the centre involve matrimonial disputes. But there are others, like disputes emerging from live-in relationships, domestic violence and problems faced by senior citizens who are driven out of their home,” said Sarda.
Adopted from Times of India