Free legal aid service eludes poor and needy

Free legal aid service eludes poor and needy

Nov 13, 2014-

Although the government has been providing free legal aid to people earning less than Rs 40,000 as annual income at the Kalikot District Court for the past two years, many poor and needy persons living in remote areas of the impoverished district are not even aware of it, concerned authorities said.

“Many people, and that includes me, are not even aware of this facility,” said Tara Shahi of Nanikot-9 in the district. Tara was addressing an interaction programme on economically-deprived people’s access to free legal service organised by the Ministry of Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs in the district headquarters Manma.

People from various walks of life including lawyers participated in the programme. Leaders of various political parties accused the lawyers appointed to provide free legal aid of doing so only on the basis of political affiliations of the concerned individuals.

“The beneficiaries include only those having close ties with the service provider and cadres of various political parties,” claimed Bishworaj Bam, district chairman of the CPN-UML. Journalist Kali Bahadur Malla said that many poor and needy persons living in remote areas are not aware of this facility and nothing has been done to make it known to those who desperately needs such a service.

“The free legal service is provided only on the basis of political influence,” said Khem Bahadur Singh, a UCPN (Maoist) leader and chairman of the District Sports Development Committee.

Dalit rights activist Dinesh Chadara said that it is difficult for many victims of untouchability and domestic violence to reach Manma and seek justice as “they do not have knowledge about whom to talk to get the free legal aid’.

Amalraj Shahi, who was appointed at the district court to provide the service, said that they provide the free legal service only after the concerned court orders them to do so. He claimed that he has provided the free legal aid to defendants in eight criminal cases so far.

Two lawyers appointed at the court to provide the service work alternatively every six months in close coordination with district branch of the Nepal Bar Association. They are paid Rs 20,000 each per month. Hikmat Bahadur Bista, chairman of the district branch of the Nepal Bar Association said that they lack the funds to run the service effectively.

Meanwhile, District Attorney Uttam Thapa said that the free legal aid service is provided only for criminal cases. Joint secretary at the justice ministry Dilliraj Ghimire, under secretary Dal Bahadur Adhikari and section officer Aruna Upreti also took part in the programme.

Published: 14-11-2014 09:04

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