Internship Experience @ Delhi State Legal Services Authority, New Delhi: Took the Message of Legal Aid and Spread it Across

Name, College, Year of Study, Email ID

Nupur Walia. University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS), Panjab University, Chandigarh. Fourth Year.

Name of Organisation, Location, Team Strength

Delhi State Legal Services Authority, New Delhi, 20-25 people

Application Process

The application forms are released online for both summer and winter internships.

You may check HERE in the month of March and October.

The internship program is divided into two batches: one commences in the month of June and other commences in July.

You receive a confirmatory mail one or two days prior to the commencement of your internship.

This may cause a little inconvenience for outstation applicants.

When I applied, the deadline was 14th May.

DSLSA confirmed my place in the internship program on the evening of 4th June.

So, if and when you apply, you must bear this long wait interval in mind.

Duration of internship and timings

I had applied for the June batch and the dates were 5th June, 2014 to 25th June, 2014.

DSLSA’s internship program is structured in such a manner that it covers a different venue for each day and so the timings vary, depending upon the authority we were reporting to.

Usually, the timings were from 11:00 A.M to 4:00 P.M.

But in case of certain venues such as courts, jails, we reported earlier, at 9:30 A.M or 10:00 A.M. As soon as interaction sessions are done there, the interns leave.

First impression, first day formalities, infrastructure

The first day started with the assembling of students from different colleges across India in the Auditorium of Mata Sundri College, Delhi. Interns had to fill the Registration Forms.

It was followed by a brief introduction by Sh. Bhupinder Singh, Project Officer, DSLSA.

Students were oriented about the para legal volunteers training and briefed about the legal aid programs and activities of DSLSA.

Informative interaction with Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed, Executive Chairman, DSLSA soon followed who enlightened spoke about Legal Aid and the scope of Legal Career in India.

A PowerPoint Presentation given by Justice S.S Rathi gave a detailed overview of the work performed by the authority in Delhi and the duties of the Para Legal Volunteers.

Several lectures were also given on different laws by the executive members of DSLSA.

We were sensitized about the need to dispense legal aid in our societies by acquainting us with various ways in which a law student can make a difference just by contributing para legally.

DSLSA called us as their “legal soldiers” who would take the message of Legal Aid and spread it across.

Discussion on different facets of law continued on the second day as well. At the end of Day 2, we were handed over internship schedule and student coordinators for 11 groups were announced.

I was the in-charge for Group X and had a team of 27 interns to work with.

I must appreciate here that DSLSA showed immense generosity and hospitality by arranging snacks, tea and lunch for about 240 interns for two days straight.

On Day 3, we reported in the Central Office of DSLSA where we were given relevant contact details of the concerned person we will be reporting to, on different days.

The office was impressively spacious and airy, complete with a conference room. The staff at DSLSA is very generous.

Every time we went there, they made sure to offer us snack, coffee or fruit juice.

Main tasks

Since it is an on-field internship, you get to interact with people from different levels of society: the poor, the aggrieved, the higher ups, the jail inmates, the juveniles, the shelter home children, the aged etc.

As DSLSA staff would say it, the legal soldiers embark on this social work experience, travel, and talk to the community people.

If, during the course of your interaction, the interns come across a certain problem and think that the aggrieved can avail legal aid, you have to report it to DSLSA Project Officer.

You have to educate the community people about the provision of legal aid that they can avail.

Work environment and people

As there is no official accompanying the groups, you are not specifically getting directions to do this or that.

The student coordinators take instructions from the DSLSA one day before and instruct the interns in their groups.

In this manner, this internship inculcates a sense of responsibility and at the same time, there can be a lot of shirking (but that is a matter of individual behavior) and if the interns end up with a coordinator who shirks and is neglectful, the internship might not be quite an experience.

The work environment is thus, very liberal and officials can be easily approached.

Best things

1. Delhi and Summers are mortal enemies and as discomforting as it can get, toiling on roads in the sweltering heat of June with a 47 degree C, tests your endurance.

2. Experiencing the self defense training at the Special Unit for Women & Children, Nanakpura. The lady trainers taught me some handy safety tips too.

3. Our recreation was taken care of by DSLSA as they arranged a free HoHo trip for us and through this, we visited historical and heritage sites. Also, they arranged for our entry in the Change of Guard Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

4. Learning about the Traffic Courts, Negotiable Instruments Court and other special courts.

5. Celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Justice Bharat Chugh, Metropolitan Magistrate, Tis Hazari Courts.

Bad things

Honestly, I didn’t find anything bad.

However, I’d like to state a few pointers.

1. Try to beat the Heat : When one applies for this kind of internship, it is very much known to them that it is to be undertaken in the month of June when Delhi heat is at its worst. So, if and when you apply, gear up.

2. Say nothing outrageous to inmates: During the Jail Visits, although one doesn’t have to fear the inmates but a little caution won’t harm anybody. Do not utter anything wrong to any inmates.

When I visited Tihar Jail, we interacted with many inmates, Balwant Singh Rajoana and saw the Nirbhaya Gang Rape Convicts.

3. Be careful around juveniles: During the visit to Observation Home for Boys, be careful around the juveniles (the ones that look 15-17.)

While interacting, be wary of the fact that they (especially the kid boys) will lie to you in all probability as to why they are there.



Biggest Lessons

1. Individual Growth : As is normally believed by one and all that working with state services authority should mostly be done by a first or second year law student, however, I don’t really subscribe to that view.

I applied at the end of my fourth year and just by doing this internship, I’ve grown as an individual, become outgoing and far more confident in my approach.

2. Breaking the Silence : As a girl, I’d often hesitated in asking certain startling questions from men in uniform and authority. Had it not been for this internship, the silence around that would have never broken. It encouraged a lot of scope for interactions and questioning (as much as one wanted to) about the working of different units that we visited.

3. Leadership and Coordination : As a group coordinator, I learnt to be more responsible and effectively managed everyone in my team.

4. Exposure : It cannot reasonably be expected to learn the nuances of the working of the entire units we visited but even then, the experience was enriching. One can’t learn all of this while sitting inside the offices.

5. Making a Difference : From the day visit to GRC Aradhya, I understood what it means to be community…

That NGOs don’t operate from big and spacious offices. That education isn’t everything you need to serve the society.

All the people operating the GRC projects were from very low income families with very limited education.

They had taken incredible efforts in educating the women about the menstrual health.

Thus, their efforts and dedication towards bringing about a difference in the community deserves appreciation. [I’m not sure if that can be said about the other GRC’S.]

I met some very bright students and I told them about law as a career and the organization IDIA : Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access.

6. Help a Woman in Need : In the orientation session, a lady Judge was invited to speak about Domestic Violence Act and Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act. Without delving much into the provisions of the two legislations, she talked purely from a moral perspective and about the societal views.

She spoke about her experiences in the field… about the fate of those ladies who compromise everything yet end up with the wrong one… about the few irrational men who think that they do a favor to the lady they get married to… that there is a little truth in what we often hear : that a woman is another woman’s worst enemy…

She made an appeal to everyone sitting inside the auditorium, especially to all the ‘young girls’ inside that hall that ‘whenever you another lady in distress, you must care to go to her aid. And above all, never try to justify an act of domestic violence.’

7. Call on Child Helpline : If we come across a child who seems lost at a railway/metro station or bus stop or his/her presence seems too doubtful with another person, one can call the child helpline or inform the nearest police station (if they don’t want to get too involved).

The Child Welfare Committee shall rehabilitate the child in one of the shelter homes, for as long as the parents can’t be traced.

8. Students can avail free legal aid.

9. Rehabilitation is possible : Inmates are employed on wages in the factories within the Tihar Jail and the products are supplied in markets with the help of NGO’s. I saw the inmates work hard, manufacture products, cook and study.

The jail library has a collection of holy books, books on law, languages, management, accounting, computers etc.

Any Other Things

1. DSLSA wants to impart education about basic laws to school children, from 8th to 12th standard. All the groups put forth their suggestions for the Mega-Legal Literacy Campaign.

2. As someone who is quite attached to the cause of mentally challenged people, I suggested DSLSA to include the day visit to Institute for Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (known as the Sharda Mental Hospital) and also, to the Children Home for Girls.

Disclaimer: Internship experiences are opinions shared by individual law students and tend to be personal and subjective in nature. The internship experiences shared on Lawctopus are NOT Lawctopus official views on the internship.

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