25 January, 2021

Legal Eagles On The Farm

For centuries, justice has eluded the poor Indian farmer. It's time to empower them.

Legal Eagles On The Farm
Extending legal aid to poor villagers struggling for their rightful ownership of land comes easier than legalese to 24-year-old lawyer M. Suneel Reddy. He has chosen rural Andhra Pradesh as his area of operation. In 2000, at the end of his first year at Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad, Suneel began exploring the idea of village courts. Says he, "The justice delivery systems in our villages like nyay panchayats have no legal sanction. Despite this, every village has one in place. I once read about a man being given the death sentence and even being administered poison by the panchayat. This cruel system set me thinking about the need to set up formal village courts."

While at Nalsar, Suneel formed a student group named Shreya which began a comparative study of panchayat and civil courts. The group went on to work in three villages of Warangal district. With the help of the MRO, MDO (mandal revenue and development officers) and the local police, they studied individual cases. "We mapped problems and held a model village court in Datla. Following that, Datla, a village with...



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