KMC deploys law students for free services at wardsOfficials say the project will help ensure justice doesn’t elude anyone in the society.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City on Thursday started deploying law students to provide free legal consultancy services at all of its 32 wards.
Based on the City’s agreement with the Nepal Law Campus on January 17, it has deployed 32 law students who will be assisting service seekers at ward offices in writing applications, lodging complaints, and furnishing replies, among other procedures. The move is expected to help especially those service seekers who are uneducated and are unfamiliar with legal work.
“This is a pilot project taken by the City to assist in documentation and legal issues for its citizens,” said Sunita Dangol, deputy mayor of Kathmandu who is also the head of the judicial committee.
Before sending law students to different wards within the City, on Wednesday, KMC had organised an orientation programme between law students and ward secretaries.
“The ward representatives gave the synopsis of the kind of legal issues that come to their wards. I guess this will make their work easier,” said Dangol.
Based on the agreement, the Law Campus will deploy its 50 students, including 44 pursuing a BA-LLB degree and six LLM students, for the drive, which is under the judicial committee led by Deputy Mayor Dangol.
At each local unit, the deputy mayor of municipalities or deputy chair of rural municipalities oversee all judicial affairs. Article 217 of the constitution authorises the deputy chief of a local unit to head the judicial committee and settle legal issues. Article 217 (1) says a three-member judicial committee is coordinated by the vice-chair in a village body and by the deputy mayor in a municipality, in order to settle disputes under their respective jurisdictions.
Pragya Dhakal, 24, a BA-LLB student at the Law Campus who was deployed to ward 21 of KMC on the first day, said she was overwhelmed by the new experience.
“We were actually getting law education without knowing how that applies in the real world. This drive has given us ample learning opportunities on the field,” Dhakal said.
She said her friends are equally excited to be part of the City’s drive.
“Mainly, we will be working for reconciliation between the people, but we will also help in documentation,” said Dhakal. On Thursday, the first day of her duty, she counselled service seekers regarding obtaining a marriage certificate.
The City will pay Rs15,000 a month to each student for their services. As per the agreement, the pilot exercise will end in mid-June.
Officials said the students will prioritise senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Two weeks ago, the City had organised orientation programmes to the participating students to familiarise them with local issues and ways to resolve local problems such as family disputes.
Other help these law students will provide include lodging complaints related to violence against women, sexual violence, and cases related to land encroachment, building map issues, and legal consultations.
Ward representatives are optimistic about the City’s drive.
“People usually face difficulties even while writing applications at the ward office,” said Devi Wasti Gnawali, former secretary of ward 13 who is now assistant director at the City’s law department. “This problem will be solved now, and also, elected representatives will get a chance to know different legal procedures.”
DN Parajuli, head of the Law Campus, told the Post last week that the drive has opened a new avenue for students to practise law at the local level, and it would enhance their practical knowledge which in turn is essential for them to be good lawyers.
“This is really a good initiative even though we are yet to see how their work functions,” Gnawali said.