COMMUNITY LAWYERING IN INDIA
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
By Mr. Sabir kachhi,
School of Law, Ajeenkya D.Y. Patil University Pune.
A perusal of the characteristics, nature, scope, values, and strategy of community lawyering indicates that the social and political scenario in India is perfectly suited for community lawyering to flourish. The economic necessities of the different communities within India further call for the assistance of community lawyers.India is the world's largest democracy. A variety of constituencies are the constitutive elements of this democracy. The Indian constitution is based on socialist ideals and the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution endeavour to ensure social justice. The Preamble of the Constitution of India emphatically delineates socialistic ideals; the Directive Principles of State Policy recognize the socio-economic rights of citizens. Although not enforceable in a court of law in isolation, the Directives are "fundamental to the governance of the country" and every government (central as well as state governments) should incorporate such principles in governance. The Constitution recognizes certain groups of people who were historically marginalized in mainstream society or are otherwise in need of assistance. The constitutional texture provides for distributive justice addressed to better the lives of these groups for the sake of social equilibrium. The various groups addressed by the constitution are scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, and children, among others. Thus, the concept of community or group is historically ingrained in the law of the land. This is in recognition of the fact that group rights have been vital in the overall development of Indian society, apart from the focus on individual rights and privileges Although scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are the most recognizable communities within the country, there are a number of other impoverished communities in dire need of emancipation. Other impoverished or marginalized populations include socially backward and supressed community, laborers, agricultural laborers, women, in addition to communities of villagers, urban homeless poor, slum dwellers, linguistic and religious minorities the list can never be exhaustive. All these groups are in need of help to increase their visibility and political power vis-ji-vis the elites of society. If one looks at the social construction of India, one could easily ascertain that community life is far more important and prevalent than individualistic living. Almost every individual has a sense of belongingness to a community and the idea of being a part of a community is cherished by each constitutive unit. Since the very early days of Indian history, village communities formed the administrative and government units of the village. Most of the executive and judicial functions were performed by (and are still being performed by) such village communities. Only very serious matters would go to higher authorities. Sometimes village communities would also legislate on certain matters. These village communities or "panchayats" continue to be the basic administrative units in Indian villages, albeit without much legislative or judicial power. Lawyers have been the strongest group in the development and progress of the socio-political struggle of the country. Individually and collectively, they have been the force behind India's biggest political and social victories.
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