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LEGAL AID WIDENED AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RISES

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has decided to open online legal assistance services by a panel of women lawyers in each district to come to the aid of victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

Cases of domestic violence and child abuse saw a major spike during the lockdown triggered by coronavirus outbreak.

What has been done so far?

  • Nalsa has collaborated with state and district legal services authorities to establish ‘one stop centres’ (OSCs).
  • Persistent efforts have been taken to provide legal assistance, through teleservices of female panel lawyers in every district.
  • SC Judge observed that the lockdown has itself created psychological issues and violence within the family.
  • Women have been burdened with more work; children are unable to go to schools. Adding to that, working at home has also had its impact on family life.
  • Massive reverse migration will invariably lead to increase in poverty, inequity and discrimination.

Domestic Violence Act 2005

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
  • It was brought into force by the Indian government from 26 October 2006.
  • The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
  • It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not for meant to be enforced criminally.

How is Domestic Violence defined?

  • Domestic violence is defined by Section 3 of the Act as:
  • Any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
    • harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
    • harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
    • has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”
  • The Act goes on, through the section Explanation 1, to define “physical abuse”, “sexual abuse”, “verbal and emotional abuse” and “economic abuse”.

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)

  • National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society.
  • Hence, NALSA is a Statutory Body.
  • The aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
  • As per the Legal Service Authorities Act, the Chief Justice of India shall be the Patron-in-Chief of NALSA.

Functions of NALSA

  1. Organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
  2. Identify specific categories of the marginalised and excluded groups and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes.
  3. Provide free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for the poor and marginalised people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer in any court or tribunal.

-Source: Times of India

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