Access to Justice Project
Access to justice is the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice for grievances. There is no access to justice where citizens (especially marginalized groups) fear the system, see it as unfamiliar, and do not access it; where the justice system is financially inaccessible; where individuals have no lawyers; where they do not have information or knowledge of rights; or where there is a weak justice system.
Hence the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India has been implementing a project on ‘Access to Justice for Marginalized People’ with UNDP support. The interventions under the Project are focused on strengthening access to justice for the poor, particularly women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minorities. The Project seeks, on the one hand, to improve the institutional capacities of key justice service providers to enable them to effectively serve the poor and disadvantaged. On the other hand, it aims to directly empower the poor and disadvantaged men and women to seek and demand justice services.
What is the GoI – UNDP Access to Justice Project About?
• In 2009, a Project on Access to Justice for Marginalized People was launched by the Department of Justice in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme.
• The Project aims to empower the poor and disadvantaged sections of society to seek and demand justice services.
• The Project also seeks to improve the institutional capacities of key justice service providers to enable them to effectively serve the poor and disadvantaged.
What is the duration of the Project?
The Project commenced in 2006 as a pilot phase for two years. The 1st Phase of the Project expanded from 2008-2013. The Project is currently in its second phase extending from 2013-2017.
What is the Geographic Coverage of the Project?
The Project has focused activities in eight States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
GIS Map Showing Operational States under Access to Justice Project
What are the broad deliverables of the Project?
The A2J Project aims to work closely with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)
and the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs)
to ensure improved access to justice for the poor and the disempowered. With the overall objective of increasing access to justice for marginalised persons the Project has the following broad deliverables:
• Support national and local justice delivery institutions such as NALSA, SLSAs & SJAs
• Develop legal and representational capacity of Civil Society Organisations and networks providing access to justice services to disadvantaged groups (such as,
• Enhance legal awareness of women and men belonging to marginalized groups
• Inform policies and institutional structures through action research and studies.
Achievements so far
• Based on the success of the partnership, the Government has launched a similar project in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East of India
with a budget allocation of US$ 6 million.
• More than 2 million people from marginalized communities are more aware of their legal rights and how to seek redressal of their grievances.
• As a result of convergence with the Ministry of Human Resource Development legal literacy has been included in the continuing adult literacy programme under the national Government of India literacy scheme, -Sakshar Bharat.
• Over 7,000 paralegals trained to better assist marginalized communities, drawn from diverse backgrounds including- SC, ST, Minorities, women SHGs, Muslim women, women living in urban slums
and so on.
• The project has built greater synergy between ranges of key actors, both nationally and at state levels to better coordinate efforts in supporting the legal needs of marginalized communities.
A first-ever study conducted in India on legal aid clinics run by law schools and needs assessments of several State Legal Services Authority have enabled a better understanding of the barriers faced by marginalized communities in accessing justice.