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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Slum-dwellers get pointers on RTI Act

TIMES NEWS NETWORK , Mumbai: If people cannot come to the law, take the law to the people. This seemed to be the mission of a programme organised to spread awareness on the Right to Information Act at Meghwadi on Saturday evening.
“Laws are made for the people and it is of no use if they are not aware of their rights,’’ said Justice S Radhakrishnan, senior judge of the Bombay high court, who presided over the programme organised by the HC Legal Services Committee and students of Bandra-based Gopaldas Advani Law College. “Transparency is essential in a democracy and the RTI Act is the ideal way to create this.’’
The programme struck a chord, if the strength of crowd of slum dwellers and residents of nearby housing societies was any indication. “In every area we are trying to disseminate information on laws relevant to that specific locality. So if the area has predominantly slum dwellers, then the laws they need are about SRA and basic rights,’’ said Justice Radhakrishnan.
The fact that the area is close to the Radhabhai chawl and was the site of some of the worst riots during the 1992-93 communal violence was not lost on the gathering. ACP Bipin Bihari mentioned as much and pointed to the relative easing of tensions in the locality over the years.
The programmes, conducted by law colleges in the city, also give students an opportunity to interact with people, according to Mahesh Vaswani, secretary of the students council of the Gopaldas law college. “Earlier we used to conduct the sessions in rural and tribal areas. But we realised that people in the city, especially those living in slums, are as ignorant of their rights,’’ said Vaswani.
The many questions about slum lords and the slum rehabilitation programme highlighted the concerns of the local population. The college has scheduled similar sessions on the domestic violence bill and the slum rehab laws in the coming weeks.
Publication: Times Of India Mumbai; Date:2007 Mar 18; Section:Times City; Page Number 4

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