Advocates have now become the voice of district prison inmates

11:15 AM, Wednesday, July 4th, 2018
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advocateMangaluru: A few days ago, a 30-year-old woman, who is an accused in a case of murder of her husband and is lodged in the Mangaluru District Prison, expressed concern before a visiting advocate over the delay in the trial of her case. She has been in judicial custody since September 2016. She is in prison along with her two-year-old daughter.

The advocate, who is among the 36 advocates on the panel of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) visiting the prison on a regular basis, reported back this to the authority, which, then, began an inquiry.

On Monday, the woman raised the issue before Principal District and Sessions Judge K.S. Bilagi, who heads the DLSA, when the latter visited the prison.

Mr. Bilagi found out that her case was before the III Additional District and Sessions Court and that charges were yet to be framed.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances your case has got delayed,” he told the woman and assured that charges will be framed in the next few days. “Once charges are framed, the trial will begin and the case will be over soon,” he told her.

This woman inmate is among the several in the District Prison who have taken advantage of the initiative of the DLSA to send an advocate each from the panel to the men and women barracks respectively on a regular basis to listen to their grievances.

DLSA Member Secretary Mallanagouda Patil said that these advocates will, among others, talk to inmates who are unrepresented before courts. They will also enquire about their health requirements, educational needs and listen to other grievances and requirements. These advocates report this back to DLSA for action.

He said that the inmates can also send representations directly to the DLSA through the Prison Superintendent.

Since the launch of the initiative, Mr. Patil said, the DLSA has received a good number of requests from inmates seeking advocates to represent their cases, and these requests have been acted upon. The DLSA is arranging for new clothes and sanitary napkins as sought for by women inmates, he said.

Of the 36 advocates on the DLSA panel, five are women. While a woman advocate visits the female block of the prison once a week, a male advocate visits the male block twice a week.

Apart from visits to prison, the advocates are involved in holding DLSA’s legal aid workshops.

They also run the legal aid clinic at Ganjimath and in the office of the Child Development and Protection Officer.


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