The Union Law Minister, M. Veerappa Moily, on Friday launched a scheme to improve the skills of young advocates belonging to economically and socially weaker sections, working at the grass- roots level of magistrate and munsif courts.
Named after the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, the scheme would offer advocates an opportunity to undergo a month-long training programme in top law institutes and another month of training under senior lawyers attached to High Courts.
The curriculum in the law institutes would cover issues ranging from the nuances of the alternative dispute resolution system, plea bargaining, intellectual property laws, cyber laws, to legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Protection of Child Rights Act, the Dowry Prohibition Act and the Gram Nyayalaya Act.
They would also be taught the art of cross-examination, presenting and arguing cases, besides gaining knowledge of usingmodern tools of information technology and communication.
To begin with, the training would be conducted at the National Law University, Delhi. It would be later extended to other law universities, law faculties and top law colleges in different parts of the country.
Each institute would be required to train batches of 50 advocates, from different States. The training would be imparted when the courts are on vacation. In other words, in a year, each institute would have four sessions and train 200 advocates.
The students would be selected by committees headed by a sitting Judge of the High Court in each State. The panels would have as members Additional/Assistant Solicitor-General of India attached to the respective High Courts, the Chairman of the State Bar Council, and the Advocate-General of the State. The Chairman would be nominated by the High Court Chief Justice.
A committee, headed by the Union Law Minister would administer the scheme. The Law Secretary would be the Secretary of the panel.
The Law Secretary would also nominate an officer, not below the rank of Joint Secretary, to monitor the scheme. The officer would submit a report at the end of every training session. Candidates selected for the scheme should be below the age of 30, have a monthly income of less than Rs. 6,000 and should be ready to lend his services for legal aid programme under the District Legal Aid Authority. Preference would be given to women, the physically handicapped and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Schedule Tribes, or Other Backward Classes.
To begin with the Law Ministry would bear the entire cost of the project; additional options of self-financing by the candidates and introduction of a public-private partnership models were also being explored, Mr. Moily said.
Discussions are on with the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Mukul Wasnik on the possibility of a joint sponsorship of at least a part of the programme. Vice-Chancellor of National Law University, Delhi, Ranbir Singh, said the first batch of advocates could receive training in October.