On August 31, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), published its final list, and 19 Lakh people were excluded from the list. The excluded persons have been given the opportunity to file their appeals before the Foreigners Tribunal (FTs).
A lot of persons who intend to make this appeal require legal aid and services. The absence of these services would frustrate these individuals and may leave them at the risk of being rendered Stateless without following due process.
A conglomerate of law schools in India has recently come together to form a collaborative legal aid clinic initiative, named ‘Parichay’.
The law schools involved in this collaboration include the following:
- Assam’s National Law University and Judicial Academy (NLUJA)
- Delhi’s National Law University
- Hyderabad’s National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR)
- Kolkata-based West Bengal National University of Juridical Science
- University of Odisha
The members of the founding team include-
- Anup Surendranath – Assistant Professor of Law, National Law University, Delhi
- Mohsin Alam Bhat – Assistant Professor of Law, Jindal Global Law School
- Darshama Mitra – Lawyer/Researcher, residing in Kolkata
Parichay’s designated headquarters is in Guwahati, and the clinic is to be financed by funds generated by the collaborating law schools from their legal aid budgets.
Parichay would be providing legal aid services to the committee. However, apart from providing legal aid services, the clinic has been formed to enable law school students to work with lawyers, by providing assistance to lawyers in various capacities which include:
- Providing assistance in training para-legals
- Providing assistance in training lawyers
- Providing assistance in conducting research on important questions of law
- Assisting lawyers in drafting appeals
- Assisting lawyers in generating documentation on the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FTs) functioning.
- Assisting lawyers in drafting and filing appeals before the FTs.
Student volunteers, from across the country, would be selected through the selection process to be conducted by the clinic. Selected students would make up a core team for research and drafting.
The core team will work in consonance with the Programme Director, who will coordinate the clinic’s activities between the student volunteers and lawyers
The collaborating universities have appointed their respective faculty advisors, who will be responsible for coordinating the activity of the university with the clinic
As part of its responsibilities, the Parichay would be providing legal aid assistance, in the form of research and documentation, to lawyers who are appealing against the exclusion from the NRC final list. The legal aid clinic will also act as a “clearing house of litigation” for these lawyers.
The Parichay would also document the NRC exercise and generate policy recommendations that would enhance policy and legal discourse on laws governing citizenship in India.
Parichay has been described by Professor, JS Patil, Vice-Chancellor of National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam, as a “historically-unprecedented collaboration among the law schools in India”.