Bharti Enterprises is rolling out a first of its kind corporate initiative to provide legal assistance & aid and awareness and literacy to underprivileged undertrials across the country and will help the undertrials by paying the bail and surety amounts in exceptional cases.
Bharti Airtel will provide an annual grant of Rs.10 Crores on an ongoing basis towards this initiative. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, will take a voluntary cut of Rs.5 Crores from his annual salary towards this cause, Bharti group said.
“Several leading lawyers from across the country have extended their support to the initiative and will provide pro-bono services. Top Law firm AZB & Partners and EY will also provide pro-bono legal, administrative and governance support respectively.”
The initiative will be solely focused on District Courts where criminal cases are initiated.
It is estimated that there are over 280,000 undertrials in approx.1387 jails in India constituting nearly 68% of the total prisoner population. This proportion is amongst the world’s ten worst.
Many of these undertrials have been in custody for periods longer than the prison term had they had been convicted. Most of these undertrials suffer in jails simply because of their ignorance of the law and their rights to liberty, their inability to pay the meagre amounts required for bails and bonds and lack of persons to stand surety.
‘Nyaya Bharti’ aims to help the deserving undertrials exercise their fundamental right to legal defense and present their case before the Courts.
Many such cases are handled by legal services authorities, which try to address the situation by offering free legal services.
Nyaya Bharti will supplement the good work being done by the NALSA and state LSAs under the statutory framework created under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987.
It will have a screening committee of independent persons that will identify the cases that need to be taken up.
Nyaya Bharti will be ready to start functioning in the coming months and ensure that the Board, screening committee and the team of young lawyers are all in place to start giving its first grant from 1st April 2016.
The Nyaya Bharti initiative will work under the aegis of Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, and will have a separate Governing Board. It will be headquartered in New Delhi and will be headed by Justice A.S. Anand (Retired Chief Justice of India).
The initiative will focus on Delhi & NCR and Punjab initially and will gradually expand presence to cover the entire North India through smaller regional offices. It will seek partnerships with like-minded corporates to have similar initiatives in the other parts of the country.
Sunil Bharti Mittal said, “Just because a poor individual cannot afford the services of a lawyer or cannot stump up a small amount for bail bond or surety, he or she should not be denied justice. We are making a small start with Nyaya Bharti and hope more people, in particular, from the legal fraternity and Corporate India will come forward to support this noble cause.”
Mr. Fali Nariman, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, said, “Congratulations to Sunil Mittal. John D. Rockefeller’s tutor once told him that “if you do not part with your wealth whilst living you will be crushed by it.” That was when the world’s richest man got transformed into the world’s greatest philanthropist! The Fund that is to be set up will greatly help hundreds of thousands of indigent under trials whose guilt for the alleged offence for which they are charged has not yet been established.”