Name: Mrinaal Datt
College: University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Year of Study: Second year of B. Com/LLb (hons.)
Duration of the Internship
3rd January, 2015 to 27th January, 2015
“It is a settled fact that people from a legal background have a diverse range of opinions.” However, if you talk to a law student, of this I’m sure- they’ll all agree how difficult it is to get an internship in your First year especially if you’re from a non-legal family background.
Alas, I’m no different. Hailing from a family of engineers and businessmen, my venturing into the field of law was treading into an unknown territory and nobody knew how to help.
After I was done with my First semester exams, I emptily stared at the oncoming winter vacations as I had no internship in hand. Almost a month of holidays, I definitely did not want to while away my time.
The ‘Internship and Placement Cell’ for our department is not fully functional, however, luckily for me, a senior that year decided to take the lead and sent the CVs of First year students to various organizations like the National Commission for Women etc.
I was amongst the tens of students whose names were sent to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and I was pretty excited about it. But the Commission never responded despite repeated attempts.
Fortunately, one day while I was sitting at home I got a call.
“Hello, is this Mrinaal Datt?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Mrinaal, I’m calling from the DSLSA. I wanted to know if you’ll be joining us for our Winter Internship program?”
I was ecstatic! Of course I would join the Delhi State Legal Services Authority for an internship! How did I get it? As a backup measure that angelic senior had asked all of us to fill up the DSLSA Winter Internship forms and boy, am I glad he did!
But this was just the beginning of the roller coaster ride I was about to embark on. Thus began the frantic calls to my best friend who was now in Delhi that soon we’ll be spending a month together and of course, the search for a paying guest accommodation.
After running hundreds of Google search, I finally found a PG in Lakshmi Vihar (that’s the place my seniors suggested) in Geeta Colony owned by a certain Ms. Pooja Khanna. By now, others also had their internships finalized and basically UILS students travelling to Delhi were divided into two groups- the ones interning with the DSLSA and others with the NCW.
Ultimately, four of us girl ended up sharing the same PG- two of us in DSLSA and two in NCW. But because I had reached before all of my batch mates, my mum and I spent the weekend trying out various metro routes to reach the Patiala House Courts (where the office of the State Services is located).
After dropping me off at the Patiala Hose Complex, my mom left for Chandigarh and I was all set to embrace a month of independence. However, I heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing that many of my batchmates and a couple of seniors were here at the DSLSA. In fact, students from UILS were in majority and on 5th January, 2015, we were all set to undertake this amazing journey together.
The day started on a promising note, with law students from all over India interacting with each other before the Orientation session officially started. Mr. Dharmesh Sharma, Member Secretary of DSLSA, gave a brief introduction about the organization and also made us watch a video to give us an idea as to what all aid do they provide.
Later, Judicial Magistrate Mr. Surinder S. Rathi, also the Officer on Special Duty of DSLSA, told us in detail about the working and functions of the organisation. It was very heartening to see the amount of information he was sharing with us with a passion that is unmatched.
DSLSA was formed on the basis of Legal Services Authority Act, 1976. The main functions of DSLSA are to provide free legal aid to a certain category of people, provide lawyers to them if needed, hold Lok Adalat on every second Saturday and spread legal awareness amongst people.
Honestly, being thereat that moment made me feel like I was part of something bigger and I felt glad that I took up this noble profession that has the power to impact lives.
Soon after, we were divided into groups of 7 and time tables handed to us. Basically, our task at DSLSA involved visiting different places everyday, writing a report on your experience there and suggestions to improve them while learning about their basic working.
I believe this is probably the best exposure a first year law student can get. Anyhow, done for the day, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch by the authorities and if I may say, the pastries I had there were the best I’ve had in my life.
So our visit was to Nidan Gender Resource Centre in Nwada which is a really long ride even by metro. We were greeted by Mr. Abdul Rashim who told us about the workings of the GRC, that it is set up for every 2 lakh population and operates under the authority of the sub-divisional magistrate.
The main aim of such GRCs is women empowerment, child development and social security of women and children. Whilst we were there, Mr. Rashim also gave us the opportunity to interact with the children and women over there to explain them about the working of the DSLSA.
But perhaps the most rewarding part of the day was when a couple of girls came up to ask us for DSLSA’s toll free number to contact them to solve their family problems.
The next day and the day after that we visited the High Court and the Saket Court. Both the days we were able to learn a lot about court proceedings and also got to know that DSLSA further coordinates with Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee.
We learned basics like what’s a division bench, a civil bench, cause list etc. It was extremely informative and Sham Sir, Raman Sir and Navjeet Sir truly made the experience a fruitful one.
On 9th January, we visited the Debt Recovery Tribunal at Patel Chowk where we were received by Ms. Narayanan who explained the working of the Tribunal in minute detail to us- right from the filing of an application to the order that is passed. We also got to know that there are only 33 DRTs in India and only cases related to debts of more than 10 lakhs can be filed.
Next we enjoyed our first weekend off, exploring the sights of Delhi but soon after we were back on Monday at the Delhi State Consumers Redressal Commission which was an extremely interesting visit as we got to witness a proceeding related to the Surf Excel’s 10/10 contest. However, the matter was adjourned to a future date and we were soon dismissed by our head for the day.
Our next visit was to the POCSO Court and we were told all about the workings of the court. It was extremely heartening to see the amount of arrangements made for the sexual abuse victims, right from witness rooms to camera proceedings etc. However, we were unable to witness any proceedings as the court was not in session.
We also visited Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences wherein we were told stories of RAW agents, Police Stations, Tihar Jail, Child Welfare Committee and Observatory Homes.
However, perhaps the most memorable visit was to the sanctum sanctorum- the hon’ble Supreme Court of India. What was more was that I got the chance to be in the Chief Justice’s court and I cannot tell you the feeling that you get whilst you’re there. For a moment you’re taken aback by the sheer immensity of the whole situation. And later you have a new found respect for the field that you’ve chosen.
All I can say is that as a first year student, perhaps this is the most rewarding internship as you get a comprehensive view as to how things are and how they should change for the better.
The internship is extremely informative and perfect for first year students. There’s a lot of time to explore the city, visit new places and try out new delicacies. It is Delhi, after all. All the heads for our visits were extremely polite and ready to answer all questions.
Further, when I received my internship certificate, there were a lot of typographical errors but one email to DSLSA and Justice Rathi, and a new certificate was sent in no time.
Sometimes we’d get free quite early because the staff was not present or the court was not in session. Perhaps students should be sent on days when courts are actually in session.
For an internship with DSLSA- You can directly mail the requisite form from their site to its Legal Literacy Wing at [email protected] They are VERY responsive to mails.
Since you’ll be traveling everyday to different places, you can take a PG anywhere really because it becomes quite irrelevant. However, I found that Lakshmi Vihar was near to quite a many places. I stayed with 3 of my other batchmates in Geeta colony with a family which was extremely helpful.
This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.