‘It is responsibility of legal services functionaries to assist the poor’
An online awareness programme for Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs) and Panel Lawyers on ‘COVID- 19 related Social Schemes: Schemes and relief measures for people affected by COVID-19’ was organised by District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Imphal West.
People who seek assistance at the legal aid clinics are usually the poorest and marginalised groups of people, and it becomes the responsibility of legal services functionaries to provide them the required assistance, said panel advocate Ch Momon of DLSA Imphal West on Tuesday.
He was speaking at an online awareness programme for Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs) and Panel Lawyers on ‘COVID- 19 related Social Schemes: Schemes and relief measures for people affected by COVID-19’ organised by District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Imphal West under the aegis of Manipur State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA).
Ch Momon stressed that the single most important goal of the legal services functionaries is to provide the best level and high quality of services to the people who come to seek their assistance and intervention in various matters.
Be it pre litigation cases, assisting with documentation to avail various schemes and other services provided at Legal Aid Clinics, the PLVs and Panel Lawyers play a very critical role and thus are the backbone of legal services, he said.
Concerning the topic of the programme, he elaborated how people from every walk of life have been severely affected by the pandemic induced lockdowns and curfews, and the consequent loss of lives, loss of livelihoods and means of sustenance, especially people engaged in daily wage activities and other low skilled jobs in the unorganised sectors which entail earning their income on a day-to-day basis.
The present state government has introduced certain schemes to provide some amount of relief to the most affected people to ensure a means of sustenance to those left devastated economically during the pandemic, stated the speaker.
The scheme CM Bal Seva (Chief Ministergi Angangi Tengbang) covers payment of Rs 2,000 per child as financial assistance to guardians or caretakers and assistance for a child who has been orphaned. It also provides protection of property rights, support for housing of children below 10 years who may not have an extended family or a guardian in Child Care Institutions, ensuring specific institutional care and education for adolescent girls in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) and laptop to school/college going child undergoing vocational training, he said.
He further said that Chief Minister COVID-19 Affected Livelihood Support Scheme aims to provide direct cash transfer of Rs 5,000 in two instalments to one beneficiary per family whose livelihood has been directly affected by COVID-19. Details of eligibility, exclusion criteria, inclusion criteria, how to apply, how the applications will be examined for eligibility by a committee etc., he added.
Secretary of DLSA, Imphal West Y Somorjit also shared his views regarding the extreme difficulties faced by the people in the ongoing pandemic especially from the perspective of people undergoing treatment for COVID-19.
He expressed the exorbitant costs that need to be incurred by people seeking treatment at private healthcare establishments despite efforts from the government to cap prices for services through various orders.
Due to these issues, private services exist beyond the reach of the common people and those who cannot afford treatment in private hospitals face a grim prospect when they are unable to avail treatment in public healthcare institutions due to unavailability of beds/services in the overburdened government hospitals, he said.
He also shared the directions of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and observations of the Supreme Court in this matter and brought up the idea of exploring the possibility of resorting to legal recourse for providing relief to affected people.
He also anticipated the possibility of legal services functionaries experiencing difficulties and even out-of-pocket expenditure while providing services to prospective beneficiaries of the schemes discussed during the programme.
Panel advocate Ch Momon appreciated the efforts made by the Manipur State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) to provide overall direction and guidance to the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) in continuously organising awareness and capacity building programmes for the legal services providers and functionaries throughout the lockdown period.
These programmes would help build the knowledge base of the functionaries which in turn would translate into effective provision of services to those in need, he said.
The programme was attended by chairperson, DLSA Imphal West Aribam Guneshwar Sharma and secretary, DLSA, Imphal West Y Somorjit Singh. Panel Advocate of DLSA, Imphal West Ch Momon took part as the speaker cum resource person for the programme.
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