Law schools in India on October 1st, 2019 launched ‘Parichay’, a collaborative legal aid clinic to assist those excluded from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. The legal aid clinics will function as a clearinghouse of litigation and research assistance for lawyers filing appeals against exclusion from NRC.
Currently, these legal aid clinics will be functional in Guwahati, Kolkata, Orissa, Hyderabad and Delhi. Meanwhile, other law schools in the country are in the process of formalizing their collaboration with Parichay.
The institutes include Assam’s National Law University and Judicial Academy (NLUJA), Kolkata’s West Bengal National University of Juridical Science, Orissa’s National Law University, Hyderabad’s National Academy and Delhi’s National Law University.
“’Parichay’ will assist lawyers in drafting appeals, conduct research on pertinent questions of the law, assist in training lawyers and paralegals, and generate documentation on the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs). Law students will work with lawyers to ensure that they are able to file effective appeals before the FTs. ‘Parichay’ will also collaborate with civil society to provide legal aid to communities,” read a press communique.
Dr JS Patel, Vice-Chancellor of NLUJA said, “This is a historically unprecedented collaboration between law schools in India, and we believe that this is necessary to ensure that no one is deprived of their legal representation.”
The founding team of the clinic includes Anup Surendranath, M Mohsin Alam Bhat and Darshana Mitra. Surendranath is an assistant professor of law at the National Law University, Delhi, Bhat is an assistant professor of law at the Jindal Global Law School and Mitra is a lawyer and researcher based in Kolkata.
Speaking to Time8, M Mohsin Alam Bhat said, “Currently, we have launched these legal aid cells only in the mentioned places and we will start accepting appeals maybe by the end of this month. Also, we have a trusted network of local lawyers in these places who are working hard.”
“Our aim is to bring together professional lawyers who will be able to uphold the rule of law and explain the entire process of NRC to the excluded ones,” Bhat added.
Parichay will conduct documentation of the NRC exercise and based on this documentation ‘Parichay’ will generate policy recommendations that can inform legal and policy discourse on citizenship laws in India. The statement also read that ‘Parichay’ will work in teams of student volunteers across the country.
Each collaborating university has appointed a faculty advisor who will coordinate on behalf of the university with ‘Parichay’.
The Assam government on August 31st, 2019 published the final NRC. A total of 3,11,21,004 crore people made it to the final list leaving out 19,06,657 persons including those who did not submit claims. The list displaying individual statuses of all the applicants was published online on September 14th, 2019.
Photo credit: @nrcassam