RDI-NALSAR National Conference On Legal Aid to Secure Land Rights to the Rural Poor: Role of Governm (RDI-NALSAR LEGAL AID)

Venue: NALSAR University of Law

Location: Hyderabad, A.P., India

Event Date/Time: Apr 10, 2010 End Date/Time: Apr 11, 2010
Abstract Submission Date: Mar 25, 2010
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Rural Development Institute, Hyderabad (An International NGO working for securing land rights to the worlds poorest) in collaboration with NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad has as a matter of fact come together to proliferate diverse rational thought on the concept of “Legal aid for the poor land litigants” by way of a national conference to be held on April 10 & 11, 2010 at NALSAR campus. The proposed conference primarily aims at sculpturing informed judgments amongst various Legal Thinkers, Social Activists, NGOs, Law Colleges and Government Institutions LSAs and other stake holders.

Land is an economic, social and psychological capital and deprivation of ones right over the land would result in absolute poverty. The Governments from time to time have enacted several laws, so as to protect and provide secured access to land to the rooral poor. Though, special courts have been constituted to resolve land disputes yet they have not been effective in rendering justice to the rural poor. The reason for the same could be multidimensional vis-à-vis lack of effective legal regime and inadequate machinery. All these reasons together make an access to justice a forbidden fruit for the poor litigants. So much so, the Laws governing land in India are being increasingly dictated by the market forces and the poor land owners are not well equipped to counter the garb (Land Acquisition for SEZs, MNC projects etc.) that emerged in the guise of neo-liberal economic policies. Lack of legal support and ignorance of law placed the rural poor at a disadvantaged position to fight for their land rights.

The number of land disputes is on the rise due to the increasing pressure on land. It has been estimated that several thousands of land cases have been pending before various Civil and Revenue Courts in Hyderabad. Furthermore, in every district there exists several thousand cases pertaining to lands of the poor people and with the passage of time this number has been keeping on increasing steadily. But for the people belonging to rural area, the number of cases filed in courts does not show the full picture. The poor people may not know that they have a just claim to the land, and if they do know then they cannot afford a Lawyer. The number of potential claims for missing pattas, for restoration of lands from which they have been ejected illegally, for receipt of land they have been awarded in the land records but have never possessed easily draw the number of cases filed in the courts. Moreover it is estimated that about 2% of lands in rural areas, 5% in urban and 28% in peri-urban areas are affected by land disputes. Land litigants and government offices spend more than Rs.750 crores per annum on settling land disputes.

As far as Legal Aid is concerned, it is a fundamental right and free legal aid has got to be provided through the Legal Services Authorities constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. On one hand, the said law has immense potential and has a wide scope of operation where as on the other; it is the most unused legal machinery. Due to the lack of ignorance and awareness the poor people are unable to reap the fruits of free legal aid under this law. Some states such as the state of Andhra Pradesh has initiated legal aid programme through a system of Paralegals which has been successful in resolving several thousands of land disputes prevalent in the rural areas. Statistics reveal that nearly 2 Lakh families have benefited through this programme. Such instances make it imperative for sharing the success stories of various organizations to learn innovative strategies and to generate deliberations to change the law both in substance and procedure, style and content thereby making it workable for the benefit the poorer sections of the society who remain dependent on the land.

This Conference will zero in on practical strategies in the form of legal aid in addressing the land claims of the rural poor. Major focus will be on various strategies adopted by Government, LSAs and other organisations providing free legal services to the poor land litigants. The Conference will not only provide conducive as well as a congenial platform to study and share various experiences but also would seek recommendations from the participants in designing an effective tool to deal with land related disputes. In addition to this, the recommendations so obtained in the Conference would be used to vouch for policy changes regarding land related issues as well as building effective legal systems.

Ultimately, this conference seeks to examine the progressive functioning of Government institutions/agencies providing legal aid to the litigants fighting land disputes. Mover over another major focus of the Conference would be to assess the strength, viability and tenability of the existing institutional mechanism setup for providing free legal aid to the poor land litigands in India as well as the efficacy of the instituions, legislative and regulatory framework reforms suggested by various committees, and allied aspects, with special reference to the state of Andhra Pradesh:

Examples of prospective questions to be discussed during the conference are mentioned hereunder:

(1) What are the problems which are faced by the rural poor in securing their land rights and is there a requirement to provide free legal aid to resolve their disputes?
(2) What are the Strategies for providing legal aid to the poor including Para-legal programme?
(3) Whether the existing legal aid models are delivering the desired results?
(4) Should Legal Services Authority specifically establish special cells to deal with land related disputes?
(5) Should NGOs add free legal aid as important component of one of their objectives for ensuring secure rights to the poor?
(6) What are the common land disputes prevalent in the rural areas? Are the courts in reach of such poor people to resolve their disputes?

Moreover, another major focus of the conference would be to assess the strength, viability and tenability of the existing institutional mechanism set up for providing free legal aid to the poor land litigants in India; the efficacy of the institutions, legislative and regulatory framework, reforms suggested by various committees, and allied aspects, with special reference to the state of Andhra Pradesh scenario:

(a) To provide a platform for understanding the working of various Legal Aid Models (Government/Non-Government Agencies) already in operation.
(b) To adopt recommendations for designing an effective implementation of legal aid.
(c) To highlight the importance of legal aid in land issues/cases
(d) Preparing a document on land related legal aid which can be used for policy advocacy and also as a Pilot Programme.
(e) To understand the use of Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism potential in resolving land disputes
(f) To study & share various experience in providing legal support to the poor on land issues.

For any further details Contact :

Prof. Balakista Reddy,
Professor of International Law &
Coordinator of the Conference,
NALSAR University of Law
Justice City, Shameerpet, R.R Dist
Hyderabad, 500078, A.P. India
Phone: (O) 91-40-23498214 (M) 9948660916
Fax- 91-8418-245161 / 174
E Mail: rdi.nalsarconference@gmail.com or balakista@gmail.com
Web: www.nalsar.ac.in


Justice City

Additional Information

Call for Papers: http://nalsar.ac.in/RDI%20Conference/Call%20For%20Papers.pdf Registration form available here:http://nalsar.ac.in/RDI%20Conference/Conference%20Regsitration%20Form.pdf