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Early into law school, a lot of emphasis is placed on how students ought to become “socially relevant” lawyers contributing to society. But how many students actually take that advice to heart?
Final-year students from Amity Law School, Noida Nishant Gambhir and Eklavya Dahiya certainly did. The duo is currently running Lex Do It, an NGO created to spread legal awareness.
Bar & Bench’s Aditya AK caught up with Eklavya to discuss the various initiatives taken up by the organisation, their future plans and more.
Aditya AK: What was the inspiration behind setting up Lex Do It?
Eklavya Dahiya: The inspiration was Nishant’s, we had been doing some community work around where he lived. When I interned with HRLN, they gave me full reign to actually meet clients and help them. We started organising workshops and basic legal awareness campaigns in and around our community. Nishant and I got together and felt that this should be done on a larger scale. We started in October last year.
Slowly we found people to work with, including interns, and we formed a team in Mumbai as well. We are expanding; it’s been a very interesting journey so far.
We realised that there are things people don’t know about which they really should. We want to change the system to make it easier for people to do stuff. For example, if you want a license for a gun, who do you get permission from? People don’t know what a chargesheet or an FIR is. Our aim is to decode the law for the common man.
People don’t know what a chargesheet or an FIR is. Our aim is to decode the law for the common man.
AK: What were the difficulties you faced when setting up?
ED: The biggest difficulty we faced was that we didn’t understand how you exactly go about helping people. So we gathered as many people as we could from different colleges and tried to establish a society. But what we found was that people were looking for monetary incentives. They didn’t want to waste their time and money on running around. So we decided to incorporate ourselves as a trust. But the biggest problem with that is, it is not a very straightforward procedure in India.
AK: Tell us about the work Lex Do It is involved with.
ED: Today, we get about 50-60 emails a day from people asking for help. We also get 15-20 calls from all over the country. So we reply to them with answers and also connect them with lawyers in the local area.
We are starting this initiative called Lex Connect, where we approach lawyers and ask them if they are willing to take one of our calls every month for free. We have about 200-300 lawyers to help out.
We have a program called Know Your Rights, where we use digital media to promote legal awareness and education among people. We have entered into partnership with The Better India, where we send them pictographical tips on how to help people, and their reach has been immense, with 90-95 lakh people viewing them.
We also go offline to colleges and we talk to people about their issues. We have also started this YouTube channel where we document what people know and don’t know about their rights.
Right now, we are working on a documentary on the police, for which we have just obtained permission from the Delhi Police. We want to show that their side of the story matters as much as the public’s side of the story. The police is known to be a notorious organisation, but they also do a lot of good as well. We want people to better understand the role of the police in society without fearing them.
We want people to better understand the role of the police in society without fearing them.
We have also approached the Chief of the Delhi Fire Services to do a documentary on fire safety and how buildings in India don’t follow fire regulations. We also wanted to file a PIL on this issue.
We recently filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act. We want the court to frame a few guidelines to make sure that the process is not arbitrary.
AK: What is the strength of your team?
ED: There are around 5-6 people working with us on different projects. We have also partnered with NLSIU’s legal aid cell, ILAAN. We get around 100 applications a day from people who want to volunteer and intern with us. It’s mind-boggling, the number of people who want to help. And they’re not just from a law background – you have Maths honours, Mass Communication students and graduates willing to help out.
AK: What are your future plans?
ED: We are not making any money, it’s a non-profit. In fact, we are putting our own money into it every day. It’s been really hard doing this almost full time, while still being in college.
After graduating, we plan to get enrolled and get into advocacy. We also want to start an offline course where we train people on how to create legal awareness among their local community. We have been trying to get CSR funding for it, but it’s really hard because people expect a return on their investment. We hope that it will be possible someday.