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19 December, 2007

Data base of justice delivery institutions in India inaugurated

People’s Watch, the Madurai-based national human rights organization, launched on Tuesday (December 18, 2007), an electronic data base of information relating to justice delivery institutions in India.

SAJI is short for Strengthened Access to Justice in India.

The Department of Justice of the Government of India and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are associated with People’s Watch in the creation of the data base, the first of its kind in India.

The website, the culmination of a year-long effort, was formally inaugurated by the Indian Minister for Law and Justice, H. L. Bhardwaj at a function in New Delhi. People’s Watch Executive Director Henri Tiphagne described the occasion as “one of the greatest moments in our journey towards creating a human rights culture”.

The resource directory, which has been created, contains information about justice institutions in 312 districts across 19 States. It is a tool which will help the citizens to speedily access justice sector institutions through a dynamic single window system. Hopefully, easy access to information will promote increased interaction between users and justice providers and make the system transparent and accountable.

The formal justice delivery institutions covered include the courts, prisons, police, prosecutors, national / State / district / taluk legal aid services authorities, bar councils and bar associations, human rights institutions, non-government organizations offering a varieties of legal aid services, human rights organizations, shelter / rehabilitation homes, hospitals etc.

Henri Tiphagne has appealed to all to visit the website and offer their valuable comments and feedback so as to help achieve the intended purposes. He says, “Although, we are convinced that the is an incredible work, the information made available cannot be considered as complete for a number of reasons. This new initiative needs to go through a rigorous process of data verification and fine-tuning. The next phase of the project would have accomplished all those requirements in addition to having information of the remaining 293 districts to fulfil the requirements of the 605 districts in India.”

People’s Watch has suggested setting up of district level help line for justice information, which may be run by an NGO but physically located within the District National Information Centre (DNic). This will mean the work being owned by the Department of Justice but in partnership with the civil society. Another proposal it has made is that the Legal Aid system must be strengthened by making NGOs its partners.

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