ONE DAY WORKSHOP ON BASICS OF LABOUR LAW: Banaskantha, Gujarat

On 7th April, 2018 four members of GCLS- Jalaj Jain from first year, Jayaditya Mallik and Abhishek Vyas from third year and Vishal Sinha of fourth year conducted a legal awareness programme on ‘Basics of Labour Law’ at ‘MARG’ institute of vocational training in Amirgarh village, Banaskantha District, Gujarat, which is almost 160 Kilometers from Ahmedabad city.

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The objective of the legal awareness programme was to talk about rights of workers to students of MARG. A total of around 150 students were present for the legal awareness programme.

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MARG is affiliated with the National Council of Vocational Development which comes under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The foundation works in areas of vocational training, education, health care and economic empowerment.  Currently the institute holds approximately 180 students and provides training for six kinds of skills, such as welding and computer training. More than 1700 students have benefitted from the institute in the past decade. Many students have been placed in industrial plants of Tata, Honda, and Hitachi etc.

Abhishek Vyas started the session by giving a brief introduction of law, then he proceeding towards the basic rights of workers such as rights of remuneration, leaves, working hours, health safety and insurance.

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Jayaditya talked about rights of apprentices, contract labourers and the concept of Standing Order. Vishal Sinha, then apprised the students about employment exchange, provident fund, gratuity, trade unionism and rights of women. Towards the end, Jalaj Jain conducted an informal discussion with the students to help them understand these laws and concepts in a better way.

The session was concluded by a question and answer session.

GCLS would like to thank following Centre members for researching for this legal awareness programme:

Jalaj Jain, Samidha Mathur, Dushyant Thakur, Brijesh Chatrola, Jayaditya Mallik, Abhishek Vyas, Ankit Sharma, Chaitra S, Vishal Sinha.

This article and all the pictures above were contributed by Jalaj Jain. Jalaj is a member of the GNLU Centre for Law & Society.

 

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The GNLU Legal Services Clinic Award: A First-of-its-kind Venture

About

The GNLU Legal Services Clinic Award is a first of its kind initiative by an Indian national law university. It seeks to honour and support the most impactful and meaningful socio-legal initiatives of any legal services committee/ clinic in India or any SAARC nation.

It shall be presented to the committee/ clinic whose suggestion for a ‘best practice’ truly embodies the spirit of unity, effectiveness and greatest-benefit-of-the-greatest-numbers. The award hopes to recognize the best social projects being spearheaded by students and support their drive and impact on the community.

Evaluation Criteria

Entries received shall be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Sustainability (Resource availability and effective usage of the same to create social impact)
  2. Social Impact (Identification of beneficiaries, reach in terms of persons and territory, the outcome and difference the programs have created)
  3. Innovation (Uniqueness of the project and utilization of new methods of execution)
  4. Presentation (Clarity in objectives of a project and creative descriptions of the undertaken activities)

Eligibility

Participation is invited from any college/ university/ institution in India or any SAARC nation with a legal aid clinic or legal services committee.

Prizes

The legal services committee/ legal aid clinic winning the GNLU Legal Services Clinic Award 2018 shall receive a cash prize of INR 40,000, a trophy and a Certificate of Merit.

Important Note

  1. All entries are due on March 5, 2018.
  2. Ten entries shall be shortlisted for the Final Presentation Round to be held at Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar on 14 April 2018. Shortlisted committees/ clinics shall be intimated of their selection for the Final Presentation Round and any accommodation charges to be paid, via e-mail by the 2nd week of March 2018.
  3. The Final Presentation Round shall be judged by a Panel of Evaluators, who shall then choose the winning entry.

Registration

  1. Any college/ university/ institution in India or any SAARC nation with a legal aid clinic or legal services committee is eligible to take part in the Forum.
  2. Register by filling the following Google form given below. You can also register by clicking here.
  3. Registration closes on February 28, 2018.
  4. Registration fee for participation in the GNLU Legal Services Clinic Award is INR 1,000*
  5. A link for payment of the Registration fee will be emailed to the participants upon registration through the above Google form.

*Note: Legal Services Committees/ Legal Aid Clinics participating in the 3rd GNLU Annual Legal Services Forum shall be exempted from paying the registration fee.

Submission Guidelines

  1. Each participating committee/ clinic shall submit a brief containing a maximum of six activities that the committee/ clinic has undertaken between January 2017 and December 2017, one of which should compulsorily be a flagship/ major activity.
  2. The brief must be supplemented with either (a) a video, or (b) a PowerPoint presentation.
  3. The total length of the brief cannot exceed more than 25 pages, with a maximum of 10 pages being devoted to the flagship event of the committee/ clinic. Annexures, up to a maximum of 5 pages, may be attached to the brief. The annexures may contain tables, pictures or other forms of additional supplementary material to be considered by the Panel of Evaluators.
  4. The brief must be authored in English only.
  5. The brief should be typed in: Times New Roman, Font Size 12 and Line Spacing 1.5.

Submission Procedure

  1. The entries must be sent by email to legalservices@gnlu.ac.in with the subject ‘GNLU LSC Award 2018’.
  2. The body of the e-mail must specify the name of the college/ university/institution.
  3. The brief must be sent in .doc / .docx and .pdf format.
  4. The first page of the brief must contain the following details: Name of the College/ University/ Institution; Name(s) of Head(s)/ Convener(s); E-mail Address & Contact No.

Contact

  1. Mr. Sameer Rashid Bhat, Student Convener, GNLU Centre for Law and Society, +91 9998925880 sameer.gnlu@gmail.com
  2. Ms. Gayathree Devi, K. T., Student Co-Convener, GNLU Centre for Law and Society, +91 8511970905 gayathree.d@gmail.com
  3. Mr. Jayaditya Mallik, Secretary, GNLU Centre for Law and Society, +91 9909964944 jayaditya.m@gmail.com
  4. Mr. Akshat Kumar, Student Coordinator, Legal Services Committee, +91 8797419810 akshathardy@gmail.com

US FOR HER: MOVING TOWARDS A MORE SENSITIVE POLICE FORCE

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The date was the third of November. The place, Panchkula. A newlywed hung his head low, as his wife told a police officer that she had been tortured by his family over dowry demands. This is one of the most common complaints brought to this all-women police station. Several such all-women police stations were launched across the district of Panchkula the previous year in order to improve how the deeply patriarchal state tackles gender violence. The woman spoke softly but firmly. Not many women in India get this far.

It is undisputed that there is widespread under-reporting of crimes by female victims, especially when it comes to sexual violence. Fear of reprisal, social stigma and mistreatment by an overwhelmingly male police force are the primary reasons holding women back. Victims, especially those of rape, have endured an extremely archaic, insensitive, poorly funded and under-resourced criminal justice system which has failed to care for them medically, as well as to deliver justice. The 24,206 rapes reported in 2011 by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is the equivalent of one rape every 20 minutes, but even that is thought to be a minority of the number of such attacks across the country. This a result of the deep-rooted conservatism of Indian society. Most of these victims are scared to come forward for fear of being “shamed” by their family and community. Others who are brave enough to approach the police face challenges like unsympathetic forensic examinations, a lack of counselling, crude police investigations and weak prosecutions in the courts.

One part of the problem is certainly attitudes. A lot of government officials, especially police, allow negative and damaging stereotypes of rape survivors being promiscuous to interfere with their duties,” says Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch. As a consequence of this attitude, a rape survivor approaching the police to make a complaint often faces hostility or skepticism.

In 2016, a 17-year-old village girl was drugged and gang-raped by a group of men in a field in the northern Punjab region. She killed herself because the police allegedly failed to take her complaint seriously. Disillusionment with the authorities, and the shame Indian society often attaches to women who have been raped, has led many rape victims to commit suicide, drinking pesticide, or dousing themselves in kerosene.

We often do not realise how the most common and seemingly innocent comments and actions send a strong message that men and women are not equal. This mindset is what spurs so many instances of crimes like rapes and domestic abuse against women. It is the need of the hour to raise our voice collectively as a progressive society and work towards building a safer society for women. Gender discrimination in India has developed several social and economic restraints. Men are always placed in a more advantageous position than women, contrary to the constitutional provision of equality provided to all the citizens of India.

Gender sensitisation involves changing the behaviour and instilling empathy into the views that one holds about the two sexes. The level of violence that women encounter is unfathomable. Rape and sexual offences need special attention from police, as they are the last resort a victim has. Police personnel need to be empathetic towards her.

In gender sensitisation training programmes, police personnel are imparted training on the criminal justice system, laws related to women and the method of dealing with a victim when she comes to report a case of sexual assault and so on. A simple, yet profound initiative of not interrogating a child in uniform is one of the many adopted by the police officers of the Karnataka State Police. The Karnataka State Police is arguably the first in the country to institutionalize training on gender sensitization, HIV/AIDS and trafficking at the police station level. They have also adopted the practice of interacting with women and children in a separate room in order to make them feel more comfortable. Inclusion of such practices in police ethics will have a great impact on the way justice is administered and will eventually lead to alleviation of women.

Particularly in a country like India, with a vast diversity existing in terms of customs, traditions, rituals, social values, family beliefs and individual perception, the need for a more systematic, well planned and more professional approach is felt to inculcate this sensitivity and primarily highlight the contribution of both the genders in creation and development of a well-balanced society. Gender sensitisation programmes aim to do just this. These programmes help instill a feeling of empathy towards victims of the female gender and reduce the inequality and hostile treatment meted out to them. They help in achieving the aim of a more considerate police force, which tries to understand the pain of the victims and act accordingly, without allowing the stereotypes associated with rape survivors interfere with their duties. The aim is to create stronger women, women who are not scared to stand up in the face of wrong and a society which only pushes them higher, out of distress, into the heaven of freedom.

This article has been authored by Aditi Mozika. Aditi is a student of law at Gujarat National Law University and a member of the GNLU Centre for Law and Society.

Protecting the Black-necked Crane in India

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Early in December, the Buddhist Monpa tribe waits in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh eagerly. Their eyes seek one sight solely, the Black-Necked Crane. This Crane is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with only 10,000 remaining in the wild (IUCN, 2017), but the Monks of this tribe seem not much concerned about this. For these monks, this bird signifies good fortune, the arrival of a new morrow, a representation of their sixth Dalai Lama. However, for the past two years, the monks have been disappointed, as the numbers of birds arriving dwindle.

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These birds are beautiful creatures, with a striking black neck. They are a migratory species who travel to India from Tibet, and halt in the north-eastern parts of the country for the winter. But why are these birds reducing? Why are their numbers falling sharply, and what does this absence signify? For this, it is necessary to look at the life cycle of the bird. In the Indian context, two sites are extremely important for these birds- The Tso Moriri Lake in Jammu and Kashmir and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. The site in Jammu and Kashmir is also classified as a Wetland of International Importance and is important as it is a breeding site for these birds. The site in Arunachal Pradesh is also crucial, as it is a wintering area for these birds, where they refuel, to help them carry on their onward migratory journey to Tibet. The former site is a lake; while the latter is a freshwater wetland, both of which are accorded protection under the Ramsar Convention. There are two main causes of threat to birds in these sites: (i) the threat of sand mining and (ii) the threat caused to these birds due to the presence of feral dogs in the area.

India is a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention is a multilateral environmental treaty calling for the wise use of wetlands.[1] This wise use requirement extends to all wetlands within the territory of a country which is a party to the convention. Under Article 4.1 of the Ramsar Convention, India is expected to conserve the waterfowl (birds which depend on the water resource in question) housed in a wetland. Helping to maintain the level of biodiversity in the wetland area is a crucial component of the wise use of wetlands in the territory.[2] This directly puts a duty on India to conserve the black-necked crane in both these sites. With regard to feral dogs, the restrictions on them are few and they are largely the cause of death of these birds. But, there is one more clear area where direct human action adversely impacts the habitat of these birds, this area is sand mining.

The Ramsar Convention also recognizes the threat caused to biodiversity through acts of sand mining.[3] Activities of mining in areas near water resources hamper the ground water ecology of an area, impacting not only the water resource in question, but also other water resources in its vicinity.[4] The NGT in India also banned sand mining through a 2013 notification around both these water resources. However, in Arunachal Pradesh in particular, this notification has had no effect. The forest department has washed responsibility off its hands by stating that the wetland is not a part of forest cover, while the department of mines and minerals has simply failed to curb the land mining in the area, which only increases as trucks of sand leave the area repeatedly, heading illegally towards China. The industrialists in the area have also planned a hydroelectric project in the area, which calls for greater fervour towards mining to clear up areas. The Supreme Court in 2012 laid down the requirement of an Environment Impact Assessment for any such mining project.[5] Previously, such a procedure under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 was not applied in cases of sand mining as sand is a minor mineral under the Mines and Minerals Act, 1957. But this judgement made these procedures non-derogatory in case of sand mining as well. Today, no such mining can take place without an EIA as well as approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. However, these provisions only exist on paper.

 Mining continues in Arunachal Pradesh without any Environment Impact Assessment despite these provisions. The implications of the mining on the crane are not directly established, but monitoring shows that the number of black necked cranes wintering in Arunachal Pradesh reducing each year. These birds face a dual threat when they enter India. There is a lack of protection for these birds in their breeding area, where their eggs are carried away by feral dogs, and the birds often lose their lives fighting with them. When the birds reach their wintering area in Arunachal Pradesh, they find themselves in a habitat which is degrading more and more year after year, forcing them to seek shelter elsewhere.

India, through its treatment of this vulnerable species, is consistently violating both national as well as international law, changing crucial sites supposed to be safe havens for birds into a nightmare for them. These birds do not just have great international importance [particularly, in light of the Black-necked crane festival in Bhutan, celebrating the bird] but also are culturally important for monks in India. It is necessary to develop a plan with stakeholders, to conduct proper management of the two important sites for these birds in India, to protect and conserve the species and to enable it to continually serve as a harbinger of good luck, and a reminder of a better future.

This Article is authored by Samidha Mathur. Samidha is a student of law at Gujarat National Law University and a member of the GNLU Centre for Law and Society.

[1] Article 3.1, Convention on the Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat [Ramsar Convention], Feb. 2, 1971, 996 U.N.T.S. 245.

[2] Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Handbook 1: Wise Use of Wetlands 1 & 9 (2010).

[3] Ramsar Resolution 9 (VII) (Nov. 26, 2002) 21.

[4] Ramsar Monitoring Procedure, Report No. 29,  St. Lucia Site ¶10.

[5] Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2012) 4 SCC 629.