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“Shadhinota” which in English translates to Freedom is the name of a new Legal Aid initiative started by the National University of Juridicial Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, along with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). This program aims to provide legal assistance to those currently in correctional homes and will start with two homes in Kolkata, the Presidency CCH and Dumdum CCH.
The program will involve legal aid camps in the homes to disseminate legal knowledge and weekly legal aid clinics in those homes. Help has also been sought from the State Legal Services Authority to provide them with a panel of dedicated lawyers to help the cases of these inmates.
The program attempts to build a bridge between inmates of these homes and their lawyers. Each inmate will have their own file and students from NUJS will pass them along to their lawyers and provide them with case updates during their weekly visits. Information will also be disseminated on appeals and bail.
The Legal Aid clinics will be managed by a set of students specifically assigned to these clinics. They will be coordinated by a Student Coordinator for each home and would be under the guidance of the faculty at the NUJS.
NUJS is one of India’s premier legal education institutes and contains in its mandate the ability to create specialised bodies under its broader umbrella to disseminate legal information while the CHRI is an independent non-governmental organisation to help in the practical realisation of human rights in the countries who are members of the Commonwealth Nations. A major area of focus of the CHRI is the prison system and tackling the problem of over crowding and long pre-trial detentions.