I. Legal literacy
Legal literacy is commonly understood as knowing the primary level in law. When citizens who are particularly marginalized or underprivileged groups, know what the law has to offer them, they can recognise and challenge injustices. The first initiative towards knowledge of the law, which can modify people’s lives, is legal literacy. CHRI firmly believes that it is required to use this education as a tool for endangered ground to understand the critique of law, to familiarise themselves with the purview of their rights under the law, and eventually to claim their rights as a means to bring change in the society.
II. National legal literacy mission
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh launched the first National Legal Literacy Mission in India on 6 March. NALSA along with other Legal Services Institutions gurantee various awareness activities to make people aware of their rights and functioning of the legal services institutions. A range of tools are used to achieve the aim of conducting seminars, lectures; distribution of pamphlets; participation in programmes, etc; multi-utility vans for spreading awareness; nukkad nataks; cultural programmes by school children on legal issues; various competitions like painting, essay writing, debates etc. on legal issues. Delhi State Legal Service Authority erstwhile Delhi Legal Aid & Advice Board has been constituted y an Act of Parliament passed under “The Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 2002, to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker sections of the society to ensure the securing justice and not be separated to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure the operation of the legal system promotes justice.
This mission aimed at educating minority communities especially downtrodden citizens and women, through awareness and free legal aid. This mission was established to make people understand laws and judgements.
The objectives of the State Legal Services Authority for legal literacy camp are as follows :-
(i) to formulate guidelines for contents of legal literacy.
(ii) to consider the use of visuals in legal literacy materials with a view to supporting or illustrating the legal concepts.
(v) to organise the Legal Literacy Camps known in rural areas as well as in urban areas.
(vi) to provide the information about all schemes formulated by State Government as well as Central Government.
To strengthen the weaker section of the society including Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, Agriculturists and Labourers, which are made for protection of their interests.
III. Need for legal literacy
Legal literacy is commonly understood as knowing the primary level in law. Need of the legal literacy is accentuated because of the following reasons,
(A) Women Empowerment
Taking into consideration the present condition, the issues like empowerment of women and their rights which they can avail to fight injustices, becomes a dream in the absence of legal literacy. It is quite obvious that women’s poverty had its relation to the absence of economic opportunities, economic resources, land ownership and inheritance, access to education and their minimal participation in the decision-making process.
(B) Understanding the Scope of Rights and their Violations
Legal literacy is essential because it can be used as a tool by vulnerable groups to understand and evaluate the law, and get their rights enforced by taking action. Knowing their rights, the people can challenge violations if need to.
It is already mentioned in the Article 39A of the Constitution of India in which the State has to provide free legal aid with the aid of suitable legislation or schemes.
(C) Transparency and Accountability
Literacy opens the gate for a transparent and accountable Government. It is basically the awareness about rights, governance. In this regard, the contributions made by NGOs , Multiple Action Research Group (MARG), is acclaimed. The projects like Harshingar project and project of Building legal capacity in Savda Ghevra, Delhi, it has played Ian important tant role in achieving the objective of legal literacy.
(D) Empowering the Poor
The legal system of any nation has a big contribution in empowerment of its poor’s. The object of empowerment cannot be fulfilled unless, the poor’s and under privileged are made aware of their rights. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. The Commission realised that, lack of understanding of legal rights serves as a hurdle to the justice for the poor.
IV. Case: air india statutory cooperation v. United labour union
The Concept of Social Justice has been explained in this case:
The aim of social justice is to attain substantial degree of economic, social and political equality which is legitimate expectation and constitutional goal. The Constitution thus mandates the state to accord justice to all members of the society in all facets of human activity. Rule of Law is a potent instrument of social justice to bring about equality.
(A) What Rights We Are Entitled to?
The fact that literate or affluent class of the society is unaware of their rights and responsibilities make us want to question the status if this issue pan India. Legal literacy is the cornerstone of the democracy, it is a lubricant for making democracy and representative work. Lack of legal literacy and awareness stems out of the country’s education which emphasizes on traditional rote-learning technique. Practical knowledge and relevant facts are never imparted in neither part of the school. There is a greater need to depute this awareness at the school level so that they came up to be legally informed and aware.
To make sure about the justice, safeguard popular rights, promote legal empowerment and need is always felt for the awareness in public and their rights. Moreover the awareness of individual’s legal rights paves a way for the participation of the citizens in decision making.
Rights for which everyone must be aware about:
- Article 24(1): Women’s rights to have full and equal protection by law, and right not to be discriminated against of their gender or martial status.
- Article 15(1): The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
- Article 19: Right to Freedom, which among other things guarantees freedom of movement, freedom of trade and profession.
- Article 32: This Article gives rights to seek constitutional remedies through Supreme Court of India for Violation of Fundamental Rights.
Legal Awareness in India has largely been remedial, rather than preventive. The people themselves are also at fault. There is widespread apathy among educated people towards knowing the law. The general perception is that law is too complex to understand it. Legal literacy in India ranges from absolute ignorance to utter confusion. It is important to that Government and the Judiciary focus on basic legal education in India. The bitter fact is that the foundation of our Constitution faces risk of rusting if legal awareness is limited to few peoples. As recently we had seen the drastic drawback of the Farmer’s Bill where many of the people manipulated against the bill they were unknown to understand the law.
Legal literacy connotes the knowledge of the law. Aware of the rights of the law can use as a tool to fight injustices. Such awareness can transform their lives. NALSA will go a long way in empowering the citizen and in fostering an open society based on the foundation of political awareness, social equality and economic empowerment.
 DNIS, Vol.3 Issue 8- April 15, 2005.
 A.I.R 1997 SC 645
 Dr. J.N. Pandey Book of Constitution of India
 Nirmalya Chaudhuri, The Hindu, 5 Jan, 2020.