Metroplus

Law & order

An under-trial accused was exposed to excruciating levels of violence by his co-prisoners. His family was worried and their lawyer said nothing could be done about it. Weeks later the family consulted another lawyer and found out that they could easily file an application in court and request the court to transfer the accused to a different block. “In situations like these and more, you need more than a lawyer to guide you. That’s where you can look up laws explained easily on the website Nyaaya.In,” says Delhi-based lawyer Srijoni Sen, one of the five core founders of the website. The idea for the website came from Rohini Nilekani, founder of Arghyam, a non-profit organisation on water rights. With the help of over 30 contributors, designers and funding from Rohini, the website was launched on November 3. Within 24 hours, the website’s Beta version registered 10,000 hits.

Srijoni studied law at Bangalore’s National Law University and later did her masters from Columbia University. She was working with the Vidhi Centre, a legal policy think-tank based out of Delhi last year when Rohini proposed this idea to her. “My work at Vidhi Centre involved legal research and helping the government frame better laws. Rohini’s idea was to simplify laws for the better understanding of a layman and it excited us,” says Srijoni.

The other members of the team are Kunal Rachhoya, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Nyaaya. He is assisted by software engineer Ashish Tandi, an IIT-Bombay graduate. Nidhisha Philip, a graduate of the National Law School, Bengaluru, is the Content Lead for Nyaaya. Sumeysh Srivastava, the Outreach Lead at Nyaaya, is a social justice lawyer who assists Nyaaya in the bigger purpose of making laws easier.

The website is one of India’s first free online repositories of legal information. It intends to simplify complex legal jargon and make it more accessible for the common man. “When Rohini Nilekani approached us with an idea of creating an India Legal Portal, like the India Water Portal that her foundation Arghyam had set up, we were intrigued, as it fell right into our line of thinking and work at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. She was keen to finance an open-access platform that would help citizens to better equip themselves with knowledge on the legal and justice system and make it easy for society and the law to be more in sync. We did some brainstorming and fashioned the idea of Nyaaya. We are happy to have initial financial backing from Rohini, and also inputs from her about strategy,” says Srijoni.

The team spoke to lawyers and legal experts to simplify the complex legal language for readers who have no legal background. It has answers to questions like ‘What does this law do?’, ‘What crimes are punished by this law?’, ‘What is domestic violence?’, and ‘If you are a victim of domestic violence, what can you do?’ The website defines itself as “India’s first free online repository of every central and state law” and at present explains the laws on Sexual Harassment, Domestic Violence, Right to Education and Anti-Corruption.

The website is still evolving, with the team working on introducing content in regional languages like Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali. “We want people to have a better understanding of their rights and legal remedies. But despite this website, people would still need a lawyer,” cautions Srijoni.

She also mentions that they are planning to add other laws like Traffic Law and Family Law. Currently, the website has listed translated versions of 773 central laws that include domestic violence, child sexual abuse, corruption, sexual abuse at work place and anti-corruption. The website’s minimalistic design enables viewers to browse through the laws in the form of Frequently Asked Questions. “We hope the portal can reach millions of Indians and help them have better and quicker access to justice, by empowering themselves with knowledge and ideas,” says Srijoni.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 13, 2021 7:30:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Law-amp-order/article16644586.ece

Next Story