Published: 05th February 2020
Govt school kids in Telangana are learning about the Constitution, courtesy Symbiosis Law students
They have also conducted a legal awareness camp and survey in Modallaguda and Appareddyguda villages to identify their problems and offer solutions along with legal assistance
Every alternate day, from 3.30 to 4.30 pm, students from classes VI to X of Zilla Parishad High School, Mamidipally (a village in Telangana), gather to understand the Indian Constitution better. These Constitutional Law classes, which were launched on January 17 and regularly held from January 20, are being conducted by the Legal Aid Centre of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad — and the activities they conduct have our undivided attention. And we had the privilege of witnessing one such activity. They divided students into groups of five and allotted them one word from the Preamble of the Constitution — Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic.
Students were asked to correlate the word to a real-life instance. So, the group allotted the word Democratic, enacted a skit depicting how elections are conducted and how after elections, when citizens approach representatives for help, the representatives don’t really come through. The group allotted the word Secular drew images of different castes and even enacted the fall of the Babri Masjid. "The best part is that these students do this all on their own," shares Sriharshitha Chada, President, Legal Aid Centre.
They have 20 members at the Legal Aid Centre has, out of which, nine are paralegal volunteers under the Telangana State Legal Services Authority
Apart from interesting activities, the importance of Fundamental Rights and Duties are also taught. Through making them aware of Article 15, which prohibits discrimination on any grounds, they are taught about treating women equally and taught about how, under Article 14, we are all equal and most importantly, "how they are entitled to free education under Article 21A," she adds. "Most of the problems arise because of lack of legal literacy and we want to start inculcating that early on," says the 19-year-old.
Surely, questions about the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) also must have come up, we wonder out loud. Sriharshitha informs us that, in fact, the questions are quite point blank. "They asked us, 'Why are Muslims being asked to leave the country?'. The fact is, these children see what's happening around them but aren't really aware of the nitty-gritties," she says and adds that it was the same with the Disha encounter case as well. So, the members of the Legal Aid Centre tell them exactly what all this is about, without being biased. While the explanations are usually in English, they use Telugu to simplify jargon. "The result of all this is that when they started, the students did not even know how to spell Constitution but now, they can list out the Fundamental Rights," says the youngster.
Members conducting a session | (Pic: Legal Aid Centre)
Constitutional Law classes, the curriculum of which the centre has put together themselves, is just one of the initiatives of Legal Aid Centre, which was formed five years ago to impart socio-legal services to those who really need it. Like on National Girl Child Day, which fell on January 24, 2020, they presented their study on Violence Against Young Girls to the Inspector General of Police, Women Safety, Swati Lakra, IPS and Superintendent of Police, CID and Women Protection Cell, Telangana, Sumathi Badugula, IPS. And now, the centre will sign an MoU with the Women Safety Wing and will be conducting legal awareness programmes soon. Sounds like a lot of work. "Despite law school itself being so hectic, we spend two to three hours at the centre every day and honestly, we wouldn't have it any other way," she shares with a smile.
They plan to conduct 18 Constitutional Law classes they plan to conduct over three months
The other work they have done:
1) September 27, 2019
Legal awareness camp on NALSA (Protection and Enforcement of Tribal Right Scheme, 2015) - In association with the District Legal Services Authority of Ranga Reddy District, they organised an awareness camp at the Gram Panchayat office, Kundelkunta village
2) September 14, 2019
Avagahana 2019 - They conducted a panel discussion on Internet Culture and its Predicament and a workshop on Cybercrime Awareness in association with the Cyber Crime Department, Hyderabad City Police to spread awareness on digital safety
3) February 9, 2019
They conducted a Career Guidance Workshop at Mamidipally Secondary School for classes VI to X
For more on them, check out facebook.com/lacslsh