With the coming into force of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, the Odisha State Legal Services Authority (‘the State Authority’), the Orissa High Court Legal Services Committee, the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) and the Taluk Legal Services Committees (TLSCs) were constituted on 11th April, 1996.
During 2021, the Executive Chairperson of the State Authority till 9th July, 2021 was Justice Sanju Panda. Thereafter, till 7th October 2021, it was Justice Sanjay Kumar Mishra. Justice Jaswant Singh has been its executive Chairman since 24th October, 2021.
The Member Secretary of the State Authority was Ms. Meenakshi Dash till 12th April, 2021; it was Mr. Bidyut Kumar Mishra till 1st July, 2021 on which date Mr. Gouri Shankar Sathpathy took over. The Member Secretary is a District Judge cadre Judicial Officer. The Deputy Secretary is a Senior Civil Judge cadre Judicial Officer while the Assistant Secretary is a Civil Judge cadre judicial officer.
Odisha has developed a state-wide network of legal services institutions in all 30 districts, reaching out to the under-privileged sections of the society including HIV+ patients, transgenders and victims of disasters. It has schemes providing representation to the accused in Courts and compensation to the victims of crime. Today, apart from the State Legal Services Authority at State level, there are 30 DLSAs and 105 TLSCs in different outlying court locations.
Promoting legal literacy amongst the masses was continued during 2021, through mega camps for the rural populace, spot films display in mobile vans, radio talks, press coverage, student literacy clubs, YouTube Live awareness camps and online webinars. Legal Awareness camps were organized in different parts of the State.
The DLSAs have established Village Legal Aid Clinics and Centres in the rural areas which are operated by para legal volunteers to provide immediate legal help at the community level.
Jail Legal Aid Clinics have been established in different jails to ensure early access to the justice delivery system for the undertrial prisoners and convicts and to provide them legal services in terms of legal advice, drafting of applications, intimating the status of their cases etc.
There are pre-Litigation Mediation Desks and Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalats in each DLSA. Besides, Permanent Lok Adalats for resolution of disputes in public utilities [PLA (PUS)] have also been set up in the revenue districts of the State. These alternative dispute resolutions are presided over by former District Judges.
In 2021, four National Lok Adalats were held in the High Court as per the calendar of the National Legal Services Authority. As many as 3,145 cases including motor accident claims, cases relating to SARFAESI Act, matrimonial cases, land acquisition cases and electricity disputes were dealt with. Of these, 306 cases involving compensation, fines and agreed loan recovery amount of Rs. 19,72,91,129 were settled. Besides, 1 District level Lok Adalat was held for Negotiable Instruments Act (cheque bounce cases) on 21st November, 2021.
In the District Judiciary, 27,632 cases were disposed of in Lok Adalats involving Rs.308,50,37,022/- towards realization of fines in criminal cases and award of compensation in other cases. Further, 7,925 pre-litigation disputes were settled involving Rs.37,18,65,304/-as fine and compensation.
Details of National Lok Adalats in the High Court
|Date of Lok Adalat||Cases placed||Cases settled||Amount involved|
|1st National lok Adalat on|
10th April, 2021
|2nd National Lok Adalat on|
10th July, 2021.
|3rd National Lok Adalat on|
19th September, 2021
|830||81||Rs.6, 34, 13,386/-|
|4th National Lok Adalat on|
19th December, 2021
Details of National Lok Adalats in the District Judiciary
|Nature of cases||Cases Placed||Cases settled||Amount of Fine realized and Compensation Awarded (In Rs.)|
22 Permanent Lok Adalats (PUS) are functioning in the State. During the year 1,548 pre-litigation disputes were registered in addition to the pending cases of which, 1,623 disputes were settled.
During the year, 8,955 applications seeking legal aid were received. Of these, 8,423 were disposed of by the State Authority, High Court Legal Services Committee and other field units. In 1,558 matters panel advocates were engaged and in 5,722 matters counselling was offered.
ADR Centres are functioning in 16 Districts. In the districts where ADR Centres have not been established, the District Mediation Centres are taking up mediation and other ADR activities.
At the beginning of the year, 253 cases were pending for mediation. During the year, 682 cases were received, 64 cases were settled through successful mediation. In 395 cases, mediation failed and in 165 cases, mediation could not be commenced. At the end of the year, 311 cases were pending for mediation.
1,968 Awareness Camps were organized by the DLSAs and TLSCs through physical and virtual modes across the State on different legal themes and welfare schemes as per the Calendar of Activities of the State Authority. The awareness programmes covered about 1.25 lakh people in the State.
During the year, 1,958 applications under the Victim Compensation Scheme were received by DLSAs across the State. 2,023 applications were decided and Rs.20,72,30,331/- was disbursed towards compensation to the beneficiaries by the DLSAs.
Following the guidelines issued by NALSA, 746 Student Legal Literacy Clubs have been established in the State, each consisting of not more than 25 student members of class 8th and 9th. There is a Teacher-in-Charge being nominated by the Head Master/Principal of the concerned school for each such club. The Club functions under the supervision of the Secretary, DLSA and District Education Officer of the concerned district.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic situation, the intra-District and Zone level (five zones) competitions on essay, painting and acting competitions were organized in virtual mode by the DLSAs in September, 2021 as per the guidelines issued by the OSLSA. The winners of the Zonal Level competition participated in the State Level competition organized by the State Authority on 4th December, 2021 through digital mode.
The training module devised by NALSA was followed for training of panel lawyers. A total of 546 panel lawyers were imparted training. Similarly, 10 induction/refresher training programmes were organised for PLVs and total 320 PLVs were imparted training. 34 training programmes were organised by the DLSAs.
During 2021, 789 persons approached the Legal Assistance Establishment (Nyaya Sanjog) functioning at OSLSA, who were provided with the required legal aid, assistance and consultation. A State-Level Legal Assistance Establishment, namely, ‘Nyaya Sanjog’ has already been set up and made functional in the office of the State Authority, OSLSA since 21st June, 2017 with the aim and objective of providing multiple legal services under one roof. There is a dedicated Help Line number- 1516. 559 persons received assistance on calling the helpline.
135 Front Offices are functioning in the DLSAs and TLSCs. During 2021, 1,149 persons approached the Front Offices and 1,112 were provided assistance in the aforesaid Front Offices.
During 2021, 5,698 persons approached the Jail Legal Services Clinics. Of these, 2,556 persons were provided with assistance.
During the year, 6,694 persons approached the Village Legal Aid Care and 2,518 persons were provided assistance in the aforesaid Centres.
The Legal Services Authorities during the unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic tried their best to provide timely and effective legal aid and assistance to the needy. The sustained efforts appear to have made a difference in the lives of the people at the grassroots. This phase also saw adoption of innovative methods and use of technology.
The following table depicts the steps taken to provide legal services authorities during the pandemic.
|Cases relating to domestic violence received by LSIs||128|
|Cases in which legal aid and assistance was provided||116|
|Petitions filed in courts through Legal aid under DV Act||34|
|Cases resolved through counselling/mediation||33|
|Grievances related to denial of wagesin which legal assistance was provided||29|
|No. of persons provided legal representation at remand stage||3,156|
|No. of bail applications filed by persons at remand stage||2,195|
|No of such bail applications allowed||261|
|No. of Under trials represented during trial through legal assistance||114|
|No. of bail applications filed for Under trials||105|
In compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court of India in WP(C)) No. 01/2020 (In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in prisons), a High Power Committee (HPC) was constituted by the Government of Odisha on 26th March, 2020. It comprised the Executive Chairperson of the State Authority, the Principal Secretary, Home, Director General (DG), Prisons and Correctional Services to look into the process of decongestion. One of the major tasks was to address the issue of de-congestion of the Jails.
In terms of the directions issued by the HPC on 30th April 2020, quarantine wards were created in all the jails of the State to isolate freshly remanded accused prisoners till such time, they were tested for COVID-19. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for implementation of protocol to be followed during the lodging of newly arrested accused persons in jails was issued by the Home Department, Govt. of Odisha to the D.G. Prisons, the D.G. Police, and the Health Department for monitoring health and safety of prisoners. 32 HPC meetings were held during 2021.
HPC related Statistics
|Inmates released on Parole||04|
|Inmates released on Furlough||88|
|Inmates released on Special Remissions||06|
|Under Trial Prisoners released on interim bail||7,449|
|P Prisoners found to be affected by COVID-19||1,395|
|Prisoners kept in quarantine wards||69,482|
|Prisoners succumbed to COVID-19||05|
|Prisoners recovered from COVID-19||6210|
Help to stranded persons and Senior Citizens
|Cases in which assistance was provided to migrants in coordination with District Administration for transit, food etc.||703|
|Persons assisted with regard to shelter problems and lack of money||24|
|Personsassisted with travelling to home states or districts||08|
|senior citizens assisted||19|
Based on the directions issued by the High Court in W.P.(C) No. 6610 of 2006 and W.P.(C)(PIL) No.3368 of 2014, Jail Adalats were conducted in 21 districts on 6th October, 2021. They were conducted in 9 districts on 10th October, 2021. In these Jail Adalats, 318 cases were taken up, of which 6 were disposed of under Section 320 Cr.P.C., bail was granted in 1 case. In 2 cases, the accused was released on Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond. In 1 case, the accused availed plea-bargaining and in one other case, the statement of the accused was recorded.
In the Jail Adalats held in November, 110 cases were taken up, of which, 13 were disposed of under Section 320 Cr.P.C. In 2 cases, the accused persons were released on P.R bond. In December, 69 cases were taken up, of which 9 were disposed of under Section 320 Cr.P.C. In 9 cases, the accused were released on P.R bond.
A tragic incident took place on 19th March, 2021 at Bhubaneshwar in which two sanitation workers died due to asphyxiation. The High Court of Orissa took up the issue suo moto in W.P.(C) No.14589 of 2021 and directed the State to pay compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs each to the families of the two sanitation workers. The State Authority was directed to contact the families of the victims and provide legal assistance. The State Authority issued letters to the concerned departments and deputed PLVs to provide immediate legal assistance.
On 20th November 2021, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Judge, Supreme Court of India in the presence of Justice A.S. Bopanna, Judge, Supreme Court of India, and the Chief Justice and the judges of the High Court of Orissa inaugurated a 5 days (40 hours) Training Programme on Mediation for 25 Advocate-Mediators. 14 of these were from the High Court and 11 from District Court at Cuttack.
This training programme which was held after a gap of 9 years was organized in 2 phases on 20th & 21st of November, 2021 and then 4th, 5th & 6th December, 2021. Mr. A. J. Jawad and his team conducted the training programme.
To commemorate the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” and Legal Services Week, the State Authority under the aegis of NALSA organised awareness and outreach programmes from 2nd October to 14th November 2021 at the district village levels. During the period, door-to-door campaigns, legal awareness camps, roadshows and rallies, competitions and radio talks were organized. The State Authority and its legal services institutions were able to reach all the villages of Odisha.
Panel lawyers, PLVs, members of SHG groups, students of different law colleges and resource persons were constituted in teams by the DLSA. Mobile vans and pool cars were also used. The DLSAs organized drawing, debate, essay and film-making competitions for the members of the Student Legal Literacy Club members in virtual and physical modes. Besides, street plays and Nrityanatikas on different legal services schemes were conducted. 49,182 villages were covered by all the DLSAs and TLSCs.
The DLSAs also organized 60 Awareness programmes under the NALSA-National Commission for women (NCW) collaborative project “Empowerment of Women through Legal Awareness”, which was attended by 62 resource persons and 3891 participants. 30 Delivery-Based Mega Legal Services Camps on different core themes were organized by the (DLSAs).
Payment of wages to the labourers
On 5th February 2021, the State Authority received an e-mail from the Centre for Social Justice, an NGO of Sundargarh District about 4 daily wage contractual labourers engaged in Mayank Acqua Culture Ltd. of Gujarat, who had not been paid wages by the company due to suppressed economic activity. As a result of the lockdown, the poor labourers being in a precarious condition, had no means to go to Gujarat to collect their pending wages, for which the matter was taken up by the State Authority.
The Secretary and the District Administration at Sundargarh were contacted to provide legal services to the labourers. On the intervention of the Secretary DLSA, Sundargarh, the company issued cheques to the four labourers for their pending wages.
Steps for proper cremation of covid victims
There were reports in the media regarding mismanagement in the cremation of covid positive patients who had died. On the suggestion of state authority, the DLSA constituted core groups in coordination with the district administration to address the issue.
Shelter for the needy
On 28th May, 2021 a report captioned “Bhanga Dadara Ghare Brudha, Brudhaa o Teen Natuni” was published in Odia daily “The Samaja”. Reportedly, an old man, wife and three grand-daughters were languishing in a dilapidated house in Nuapada district. The DLSA Nuapada immediately took up the matter for providing legal assistance to the 70-year old man, Akhila Sabar and his family members. DLSA, Nuapada requested the Chairman of TLSC, Khariar for taking appropriate steps. The Chairman wrote to the Block Development Officer, Khariar for assistance to the beneficiaries. In response, the Block Development Officer sanctioned Rs. 20,000/- as first installment for construction of a Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) house and also provided Old-Age Pension and Ration Card to the beneficiaries.
Rescue of a distressed woman from Tamil Nadu
A woman of Goudabada Sahi, Puri had been working as a tailor in a textile company at Tirupur, Tamil Nadu. With the rise in Covid-19 cases, she wanted to return home, but her employer did not grant her leave, rather wrongfully confined her. This fact was intimated to District Administration, Puri by her father and in turn the District Labour officer, Puri requested DLSA Puri to intervene in the matter. The DLSA thereafter, requested the Secretary, DLSA, Tirupur and the Chairman TLSC, Avinashi for rescue of the woman. Finally, due to the intervention of Legal Services Authorities, the woman was rescued and repatriated.
Release of Wages to the migrant labourers
Bhima Beka, Tapan Kalar of village Tandiki, Raju Padiami, Irma Kabasi of village Tangaguda and NakiKabasi of village NuaBondki under Malkangiri district were taken through a village agent, Unga Madkami to work for a contractor, Gouri Durga of Andhra Pradesh as daily labourers.
The Contractor engaged them for borewell digging work at different places like Ichhapur, Rayagada, Bhubaneswar, Paralakhemundi and Berhampur during lockdown but after completion of work, the contractor did not pay their wages for months. The poor labourers approached several authorities but to no avail. Due to non-receipt of wages during lockdown, the labourers were on brink of despair and destitution. On advice of a PLV of DLSA, Malkangiri, Dr. Ranjan Kumar Swain, the labourers came to the office of DLSA, Malkangiri for redressal. After hearing the facts, a pre-litigation case was registered and the matter was taken up with the Labour Department, Malkangiri for taking immediate action for recovery of the wages of the labourer from the defaulting contractor.
Rehabilitation of an old man
Being ill-treated by his wife and son and driven out from home, an old person was found roaming around the Civil Court premises, Dhenkanal in distress and desolate condition and the matter came to the knowledge of Secretary DLSA, Dhenkanal who found that due to his old age, the old man could not walk and speak properly. The condition of the old man was very grim and it was apparent that he needed immediate rehabilitation and proper treatment.
Taking into consideration his condition, the District Social Security Officer, Dhenkanal was immediately moved by the Secretary, DLSA to take immediate steps for rehabilitation of the old man in any shelter home at Dhenkanal and to provide immediate medical treatment without delay.
Later, the DLSA staff accompanied the old man to the office of DSSO, Dhenkanal for his immediate medical treatment and made all arrangements for his stay in the Kunjabihari shelter home at Dhenkanal. He was immediately provided with medical treatment and was rehabilitated.
Rescue of a mentally retarded woman
On receiving information about a 34-year old lady, who was mentally retarded and moving in distressed and desolate condition near Bidanasi area of Cuttack Town, OSLSA rescued and admitted her in the mental ward of SCB Medical College & Hospital with the help of IIC Bidanasi, Cuttack where she was provided immediate medical treatment.
Medical support provided to a victim
During the 45 days of the Pan-India awareness and outreach campaign, the DLSA, Jharsuguda, constituted various teams for the purpose of legal awareness programmes and camps at different corners of the district. On 5th November 2021, a (PLV) was asked to conduct a legal awareness camp at Durlaga village under Talpatia police station. During the Camp, he found a person with mental illness, requiring immediate treatment and rehabilitation. The PLV collected all the requisite information regarding the identity of the victim.
With the help of an NGO, People’s Forum, the DLSA Jharsugda rescued the victim. The staff of DLSA, Jharsuguda further visited the NGO to ensure the wellbeing of the victim.
Medical help to a victim
On 14th October, 2021 DLSA, Phulbani received an application from a young man, Bimal Nayak of Badabanga village of Kandhamal district, who had lost his hands due to electrocution. He was found sitting on the roadside of Raikiain in a distressed condition. The Secretary, DLSA, Phulbani contacted the CDM & PHO, Phulbani and admitted him to the hospital for treatment. In co-ordination with the DLSA, Cuttack, assistance was provided to the victim for his treatment at the SCBMC & Hospital, Cuttack. It is ascertained from his family members that the surgery of his left hand was successfully conducted and he is likely to recover.
Help provided under “Ashirbad Scheme”
A news item was published in the daily “The Samaja” that a man, Umakanta Behera had died due to cardiac arrest and had left behind his poor widow and two minor daughters. The Secretary, DLSA, Jagatsinghpur immediately deputed a PLV, Khirod Kumar Dash to enquire about the matter. The PLV submitted an enquiry report to the effect that due to the sudden demise of Umakanta Behera, the two minor daughters were unable to continue their studies and were living in a collapsed thatched house. The Secretary, DLSA immediately instructed the District Child Protection Officer, Jagatsinghpur to register the two minor daughters of the deceased under the “Ashirbad Scheme”. The DCPO, Jagatsinghpur immediately registered the two minor daughters under the said Scheme. Now they are receiving a monthly scholarship of Rs. 1500/- each as financial assistance. Further, Secretary, DLSA requested Block Development Officer, Jagatsinghpur to take early steps to include them in Indira Awash Yojana and provide financial assistance to the wife of the deceased.