Take up Legal Social Work with All Sincerity

Take up Legal Social Work with All Sincerity

Written by

Published on

The country is passing through a phase when there is an exponential rise of violation of civil liberties on one hand and, on the other, genuine voices for preservation of civil society are dwindling day by day, said renowned legal expert and president of Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) Advocate Yousuf Hatim Muchhala while addressing a training programme of legal social workers at Hajj House, Mumbai. He stressed that the time has come when such voices should come up and take the lead from among those who are bearing the brunt of the situation.
The three-day programme, which opened on February 15, aimed to train Muslim activists to effectively play their role in the protection of civil rights. It was the second event of its kind in the envisaged series of similar programmes in different parts of the country.
The programme began with the recitation of the Qur’an followed by the welcome address of Nazar Mohammad Madoo, Ameer-e-Halqa of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s Maharashtra Zone, who expressed his pleasure on the unexpected high number of social workers who joined the training programme from each nook and corner of the state and wished that the enthusiasm of the sincere delegates would get further increased and enhanced after conclusion of the three-day programme.
The APCR president briefly introduced the objectives and methods of the organisation and spelled out the purpose and focus of the training programme organised by the association for social workers of Maharashtra.
In his keynote address, Professor Muhammad Rafat of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, highlighted the role of law in promotion of civil society. He brought home the fact that law as such is meant for establishment of justice and equity. But the prevalent situation is that men have turned a vital portion of this tool for reverse purposes. Several laws are enacted with the sole intention of ushering in injustices, while a number of existing statutes are applied with biases and prejudices, thereby defeating the purpose for which the laws were enacted.
According to him, the best way of fighting oppressive tendencies is to expose them by acquiring comprehensive information on the actual violation of human rights along with substantial proofs and by mobilising masses against heinous tendencies.
In his speech on “Responsibilities of Citizens Striving for Justice,” Dr Shakeel Ahmad, the project director of APCR, pointed out that legal social work should be taken up with all sincerity and fervour for upholding peace and justice in the country. The role of legal social work seems highly crucial as levellers, peace workers, crisis managers, legal advisors for common people, legal counsellors, compilers of data and documents, campaigners of civil rights, coordinators among human rights groups in a given area/locality and upholders of civil society.
He appealed that those who are interested in the field need develop enough knowledge and understanding regarding Indian judicial system and functioning of law enforcement agencies, norms and procedures of government machinery, perspectives of human rights activists, etc.
Abdul Rashid Agwan highlighted importance and significance of documentation for legal social work. He pinpointed professional approach in taking up due responsibility in this regard.
The morning session of the second day was presided over by Dr Shakeel Ahmad and a number of experts gave presentations on given themes. Abdul Mobin Solkar, advocate, gave a very useful lecture informing the participants about the importance of First Information Report, both at the defence of the case at the initial stages and at all stages of the proceedings. He guided them about the difficulties in filing FIRs and demonstrated how to overcome the same.
Senior advocate Vijay Pradhan elaborated the rights and powers of police while arresting an accused. He further talked about the rights of the accused. In the backdrop of misuse of their powers by the police in using loopholes in the procedures and blatant abuse of their powers, the learned speaker informed the participants how to overcome the same. Advocate Papa Qazi educated them on judicial proceeding of a case and its various stages during dispensation of justice. Advocate Saeed Akhtar talked about the history of Right to Income Act and elaborated its salient features and its modus operandi to redress injustices done to and empower weaker sections of the society.
In the evening session Dr Shakeel Ahmad shared his personal experiences of dealing with widespread human rights violation in Gujarat during and after post-Godhra riots. The experience of Gujarat shows that despite heavy odds if a situation is tackled professionally it is possible to face effectively the heinous crimes of the state, irresponsible behaviour of the police and the antagonistic attitude of a portion of judiciary. The experience of Gujarat shows that by stressing on due legal remedies and effective and professional handling of cases a lot of innocent people or their survivors could be helped to a great extent, not only in the dispensation of justice but also in ensuring due compensation to them. This discourse was followed by an open house session in which delegates shared their experiences.
Advocate P.A. Sebastian finally concluded the session. The last activity of the day was the Assessment of Background Knowledge of the participants. For this purpose, a questionnaire was distributed among the participants for entering their due response for analysis.
Mr Agwan convened the session of Assignment and Assessment in the first session of the third day. The participants were given various practical assignments such as to write an application under Right to Information Act, a note for human rights commission, a representation to minority commission or an application in the session court. The practical work was followed by presentation of a case study by Shahid Azami, who underlined how civil rights are denied in the country at various levels of legal procedures and adjudication.
In the concluding session, presided by Nazar Mohammad Madoo, the delegates expressed their impressions verbally and also in a prescribed feedback form regarding the programme. It was also resolved to form local groups in various parts of the state and names of activists were suggested for almost all districts for taking lead in this regard.
Mr Agwan commented on the assignments submitted by the delegates and presented an analysis of the assessment of their paralegal background.
In his valedictory remarks, Mr Madoo reminded the participants that their real work started then. He expected that paralegal workers who got preliminary training during these three days would not only continue their interest in the field but would also take up the work in a professional way for enabling Indian society at large to enjoy unabated human rights and civil liberties.
That the programme was a grand success can be gauged with the whole-hearted participation and enthusiasm of concerned individuals on whose insistence the number of registered delegates went from the planned 75 to the actual 187.
APCR was established some time back for legal empowerment of weaker sections of the society who fall easy prey to the onslaught of radical and reactionary groups in the country.