Forbes India 30 Under 30, 2015 List: 5 Lawyers from Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group; NLUD’s Death Penalty Litigation Clinic

Guneet Kaur, Isha Khandelwal & Parijata Bharadwaj aged 24, 25 and 26, Co-founders of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group and Shreya Rastogi & Lubhyathi Rangarajan, aged 24 and 27, Leg feature in the Forbes India 30 under 30 list.

See the full Forbes India 30 under 30 list hereHere’s what Forbes India had to write about them:

Our spunkiest listees, indisputably, are young lawyers—all women—who have made it their job to fix the ills of the legal system.

Guneet Kaur (24), Isha Khandelwal (25) and Parijata Bhardwaj (26), co-founders of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, have set up shop in the Maoist-hit areas of Chhattisgarh, helping hapless undertrials fight the soaring incarceration rates.

In the nation’s capital, Shreya Rastogi (24) and Lubhyathi Rangarajan (27) offer legal representation to death row inmates in an attempt to commute their sentences.

In an interview to SuperLawyer here, Guneet Kaur says this:

Of the many reasons I consider myself lucky for getting HNLU, one of them is HNLU’s location in Chhattisgarh.

[Editor’s note: Who says HNLU’s location is ‘bad’?]

It really helped me in developing an understanding of state sponsored human rights violations in conflict zones.

While Raipur itself does not have any trace of the insurgency, but being in the capital, one cannot be indifferent to it.

Some time in my second year, the trial court convicted Binayak Sen.

It was a very flawed judgment and I felt helpless that being in a law school in Raipur, I wasn’t able to do anything about it.

While HNLU was a very politically active campus, once the Raman Singh government came to power, administrations were changed and our students became very insular to the happenings in the state. So there wasn’t much I could do from within HNLU.

I wrote e-mails to a couple of people in People’s Union for Civil Liberties and they immediately responded. Thereafter, I started attending PUCL meetings and protests regularly.

[Editor’s note: That’s what ‘hustling’ is all about]

Through PUCL I met some really inspiring and learned people like BinayakSen, Sudha Bharadwaj etc. While personally PUCL was a very enriching experience, it also proved very fruitful professionally.

Since I was working for PUCL, a lot of other organizations like Center for Social Justice and HRLN approached me if I wanted to volunteer for them. My work with all these organisations was the reason that I got selected for an externship with the Armed Conflict Project at Berkeley.

Additionally, I learnt a lot of professional skills like drafting, fact-finding, approaching a client, making representations to NHRC etc., from the time I spent volunteering.

[…]

A lot of us decided to go black and white, because that attire had an idea of justice attached to it.

Somewhere mid-way through law school, we see our classmates running after fancy jobs and our reasons for joining law school take a back seat.

Don’t let that happen to you.

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