Republished from A First Taste of Law archives. This article is written by Rouhish Pandey, a 4th year student at Amity University, Lucknow.
“Internship” according to Oxford Dictionary is “a period of time during which a student or new graduate gets practical experience in a job, for example during the summer holiday/vacation”. But, in real life internship is a way in which an individual may develop his character and get to identify his interests and work accordingly. Internship if done under a reputed personality or organization can do wonders for an individual and his personality. Internship is completed before the student graduates from the university. In some cases internships can be completed in the summer between the student completing the UG (undergraduate) degree and before beginning a graduate degree program.
I got a wonderful opportunity to be an intern in UPSLSA (UTTAR PRADESH STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY). Before talking about my experience I would like to talk about the history behind UPSLSA. In 1976, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment inserted Article 39-A obligating the State to “provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability”. It is in this context that a law was enacted in 1987 – Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 which led to the setting up of Legal Services Authorities at the National, State and District levels along with Legal Services Committees at the Supreme Court, High Court and the Taluka levels. The aim of Legal Service Authorities has been to increase the quality and reach of legal services with a view to bring justice to those who are vulnerable or cannot afford to hire a lawyer or are too scared to go to courts for one reason or other . In 1987, the Government of India enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act (LSA Act) which came into effect on 9th November 1995. It sought to constitute Legal Services Authorities throughout the country to provide free and competent legal aid to the poor and needy.
So, on 2nd June 2014 we attended the inaugural session of internship by getting ourselves registered at the UPSLSA office.
Then we learned experiences of designated authorities of UPSLSA. We interacted with interns from different law colleges too with the help of a simple task that was assigned to us which made us more comfortable at a new place and with a new bunch of students. Further, we all were allocated into 5 groups and assigned different topics for Reports that was to be submitted at the end of the Internship, also the best team member would get a special price for the efforts. We were taken to the Police Station of the city which is located at Hazratganj. There we had interaction with DSP. We got practical knowledge about how the things really work at a Police Station. At the Police Station we got to have a look at the Charge sheet, FIR and the Final Report and also sections relating to it were brought to our notice. We also had a casual interaction with the policemen on duty. They told us that they want to work but the government is not doing enough for them. One of them also discussed an incident where a dead body was to be sent for cremation. There was an on-duty officer who instructed the constable to do so. The salary and facilities provided to a constable is too low to earn his bread and butter properly and they get no extra money for such works. They have to do the cremation of a stranger by their own money. Its so discouraging for them to work where they are not being paid for the amount and gravity of the work they do. It helped me in understanding the intricate functionalism of a police station and how an FIR is lodged and then further investigation takes place. I think its essential for a lawyer to know everything about a police station functioning.
We got a chance to visit Cyber Crime cell where all the offences relating to misuse of Internet which may include harassment, torture or morphing obscene pictures against men or women.
There were women police officers too, probably because cyber crimes happen mostly against women. One of the police lady shared a case with us where a girl was harassed by her own uncle who used to send, her own objectionable morphed pictures and also sent really filthy messages on her facebook account through a fake profile. It was later through cyber cell that they got to know it was her father’s best friend. Cyber cell works really systematically and efficiently. Cyber law is an emerging field now imparting knowledge on cyber security. It was a great experience to see the quality of work by the trained officers employed at cyber cells. It is creating awareness on cyber security and made it an excellent example of how thoroughly I enjoyed visiting a cyber cell.
We went to 1090 Women Power line which is created to empower women and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Mr. Akhilesh Yadav.
1090 Helpline is established in Lucknow so that women who are victimized by wrong prank calls and tortured by men over cell phones can register their complaints at this Helpline just by dialing an easy number 1 0 9 0 and some steps could be taken in order to help the women and empower them. There is a whole set up where the complaints will be heard by female officers so that women may not feel hesitant to freely express their problems, then these complaints will automatically get transferred to male counselors through computerized function. Now, these counselors will call the prank callers and counsel them and if the case gets serious there are police officers who will trace the number, call the caller and his parents or guardian and counsel them. They also take a written undertaking on some grave situation. 1090 helpline is playing a vital role in preventing women from eve-teasing through cellphones which is increasing day after day which if unattended results in serious crimes such as kidnapping, rape, etc.
While interning in UPSLSA we got an opportunity to visit Hon’ble High court, Lucknow Bench which was a great experience as we saw a case relating to murder being heard in the Court Room.
We were also taken to mediation and conciliation centre which is a new process in Indian Law by which the cases are settled outside the court with the help of a mediator to conserve courts resources and valuable time as there are already so many cases which are pending. Mediation is a dispute-resolution process in which an independent third party helps disputants to settle a conflict in a mutually acceptable fashion. Conciliation is a term often used interchangeably with mediation; at other times, it is used to refer to a more unstructured process of facilitating communication between estranged parties. It is a good process as the cases are settled outside courts and we witnessed the mediation of a women with her in-laws where the women was pressing charges against her husband and the in-laws for cruelty. The court after hearing the case referred the matter to the mediation centre. The best part about this process is that the independent third party always tries to resolve the matter amicably, no matter how hard the case is.
We also went to the museum where Old parchments and photos were kept with the law that existed at the time of British Government.
We also visited the District court where the experience was totally different from that of books. It must be added that YES the High Court was far better and in order than the District Court.
We also visited Children home and observation home.
This place aims at correction not punishment. The children who live here fall in the age group of 0 to 18 years. There were 150 boys and 50 girls in the Home at that point. The children who are brought here generally have background of street life and so are prone to many ailments and diseases. Every child, therefore, is given a medical check up on admission and treatment is given accordingly. Those who are affected with diseases of a serious nature are to be given long term treatment and are admitted to Municipal Hospitals. The Home has its own hospital, Medical Officer and Nurses. They are also given education facilities and recreational facilities. We interacted with them on one-on-one basis. It was a different experience talking to them. We interacted with boys who were convicted of some offences and put in these Juvenile Shelter, mostly the boys were either wrongly convicted or just suffering for someone else’s offence. It was clear when we met a boy 4 years old convicted for rape.
We were also taken to Shelter home.
There we observed how they are given shelter and take care of girls who are in need of care and affection as they are away from their homes as some girls were suffering from memory loss or were destitute. One was a case we came across, where a Bangladeshi girl ran away from her home and reached Lucknow. She was found on Lucknow Railway station and was brought here. She had an acute case of memory loss. After 19 years, she was able to tell the people that she belongs to Bangladesh. The UPSLSA helped tracking her address and she was sent back to her home.
UPSLSA gave us an opportunity to visit Forensic Science Laboratory.
There we came across how crimes are detected as Forensics play a very important role in identifying crime and also the criminals involved in conducting those crimes. It should be mentioned that identifying the blood group, fingerprints and any other DNA or any material that can help in solving of a crime comes under Forensics. Forensics is often less spoken off when it comes to solving of a crime and catching a criminal but it mostly plays a vital role in solving of crime. In Forensic Science Laboratory we got to know about the reasons behind increasing brutality in the crimes reported. Then we went to meet The State Information Commissioner and gained knowledge regarding RTI, 2005 which is a new act and has gained importance in recent years. We also got the chance to witness the proceedings. We also visited Jail with all our designated authorities accompanying us. We got a chance to interact with the offender. They talked to us about the offence that they were convicted of and treatment that they were receiving in the jail as they also have a right of livelihood and not mere animal like treatment. There was a different cell for terrorists where we were not granted entrance because of some preventive measures.
Overall experience at UPSLSA was wonderful.
We got to learn a lot about the current scenario that existed in law enforcement mechanism and also the methods that are being implemented for helping the people in need. We can serve our best as Para Legal Volunteers and help the organizations such as UPSLSA so that the needy can also seek justice and raise their voices against the wrong taking place against them and also against the social evil existing against them. Organizations like UPSLSA are also important as the poor and indigent person is the one who is mostly victimized and gets no support from the lawyers or courts and even if they get any support it is too less compared to the amount of wrong happening with them. UPSLSA is doing a great job with many efforts in providing free legal aid to the ones who need it and it must also be said that UPSLSA is a mere starting point in empowering the poor and needy. It was a great internship which provided the knowledge and skills required to become a successful lawyer. It was a very small span of time to know about the overall functionalism, but I can say that I’ve got a perfect introduction. So, UPSLSA was a very wonderful internship experience and I hope I would get more such wonderful learning experience in future. http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/internship