CSJ’s work on Women’s Rights

Nature of work since the time the group was formed – in brief

Since its formation 1994, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has been instrumental in setting up quality parameters in the field of social justice lawyering. Apart from providing direct legal services to marginalized groups and communities, it has played a proactive role in creating a cadre of paralegals who are trained in grass roots based legal interventions and advocacy. It has also facilitated the implementation of and brought in various other legislations, policies and practices notable among them being the operationalization of the Domestic Violence Act and compensation for riot victims in Gujarat based on the strategy of building the advocacy agenda from the grass roots.

Nature of work at present – in brief

At present, CSJ works in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh where legal services and representations are provided to survivors of domestic violence, rape and other human rights violations. Similar services are provided as part of an action-research on minority rights in Rangareddy (Telengana), Gulbarga (Karnataka), Kandhamal (Odisha), Howrah (West Bengal) and Gumla (Jharkhand) as part of a partnership with local organizations.

Nature of work specifically with regard to (a) sexual violence (b) legal interventions (c) women victim-survivors (d) VAW.

(A) Sexual violence – Provision of free legal aid, counseling and related services to victims of sexual violence in 7 states in India.

(B) Legal interventions – Domestic Violence PIL in Chhattisgarh.

(C) Women Victim – Survivors – Victim compensation was provided for several victims in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujarat.

(D) VAW – Awareness programmes for the public and capacity building for volunteers and paralegals on women’s rights (sexual violence, property rights etc.) in 7 states in India, at the first level, after which victims are able to identify violation of their rights and come forward with their cases to find legal solutions to them.

Major interventions relating to women’s rights may be found here http://www.centreforsocialjustice.net/interventions/womens-rights

Any past legal interventions- both in court as well as role played in framing of legislation, government policy etc.

  1. Velacha Riot Compensation Case “Usmanmiya G Sheikh v/s State of Gujarat” (Case No. 2262/2007 in Gujarat High Court) – A writ petition was filed in Court, demanding payment of adequate compensation to riot victims, whose commercial/residential properties were looted and destroyed by mobs. In October 2010, after a protracted legal battle, the HC orderedthat victims be paid compensation equivalent to the one paid by the government to families affected by the riots in 2002.
  2. Mr. Gagan S Sethi and Mr. Yusuf Shaikhv/s State of Gujarat and Others (Case No.  14664/2008 in Gujarat High Court) – We also filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court to highlight the non-implementation of the compensation package announced by central government for victims of the 2002 riots. The Court ruled in the favour of CSJ and the Gujarat Government was forced to release Rs. 300 crores to victims as compensation for loss to residential property.
  3. To ensure implementation ofprovisions under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), the Centre filed a Public Interest Litigation pushing the State to appoint Protection Officers at the Taluka level and ensure a quick disposal of pending applications.
  4. CSJ-initiated campaign for the establishment of Family Courts in Gujarat triumphed after a PIL was filed, resulting in the establishing of courts in Ahmedabad.

More details of policy-level and legal interventions are available here: http://www.centreforsocialjustice.net/interventions

Any other details about each group, including International/national recognition, etc that a High Court  will be impressed by.

Research – We were:

  1. Selected by the UN Women to undertake an action-research on the situation of minority women in Gulbarga (Karnataka), Rangareddy (Telengana), Kandhamal (Odisha).
  2. Invited by the Planning Commission (12th Five Year Plan) to submit Approach Papers on Access to Justice for Minorities.
  3. Invited by the Law Commission for a study done by Justice S. N. Kapoor to submit recommendations for the improvement of functioning of Legal Service Authority Act. Our work was appreciated and included in the final report.
  4. Invited by the Department of Justice to give suggestions on improving the condition of Legal Services Authority. Our recommendations were taken and three schemes – Paralegal Volunteer scheme, Retainer Lawyer scheme and Law Clinic scheme were launched based on the same.
  5. Invited by the Department of Justice to undertake a study on legal empowerment in 7 states.
  6. Invited by the Advisory Group to NAC for formulating the Communal Violence Bill.
  7. Invited to be on the Advisory Committee to the Assessment and Monitoring Authority to look at the implementation of the PM’s 15-point Programme.

Awards – We were awarded the:

Best Innovation for Legal Empowerment by the MEA at the Pravasi Bharatiya event in Bangalore.

Collaborations – We were:

  1. Selected by the UNICEF to undertake capacity building on child rights in Madhya Pradesh, for their partner organizations.
  2. Selected by the Gender Resource Centre, Gujarat to undertake training of protection officers in Gujarat.
  3. Invited by the CISF, Police and other departments to set up the Anti-Sexual Harrasment Committee at the Work Place.
  4. Invited by the National Judicial Academy for training judges.
  5. Invited by the NLSIU, Bengaluru for helping to design their Human Rights Training Programme.
  6. Invited by the DGP to undertake Sensitization Training for Police in Bhopal.
  7. Invited by the Government of Gujarat to set up the Child Rights Protection Committee in Surendranagar.
  8. Invited by Professor Madhav Menon to design the curriculum of the law course in Guru Ghasi Das University, to participate in a programme on the Uniform Civil Code organized by Mumbai National Law University and to contribute to a book on social justice lawyering being developed by him.

International:

  1. Training of South Asian trainers on legal empowerment, in collaboration with SAILS and BRAC-U.
  2. Part of Wada Na Todo Abhiyaan for the international process on determination of post-2015 MDG agenda.
  3. Work on 2002 Gujarat riots contributed to the Shadow Report of the National Alliance of Women for CEDAW.
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