The Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law at IIT Kharagpur has started a Legal Aid and IP Facilitation Cell to provide legal service to the needy and enable legal literacy. Faculty and students from the law school of IIT Kharagpur associated with the Cell will provide legal aid as an enabling and outreach activity.
Access to legal aid is still a problem in Indian society, especially in rural areas. In many cases, a legal step is simple but people hesitate to take it. Again in many cases, good legal advice can lead to expedited solutions. Sometimes it is even necessary to avoid long legal wrangles and take immediate action.
Prof. Padmavati M, Dean of the IIT Kharagpur law school explains, “What happens if an 80-year-old complains of being mistreated and dispossessed of his/her property by the son? How long can he/she wait for a legal solution to the problem?” In marital cases, too, timely legal advice may lead to early resolution. “When we enable the mechanism of legal aid to, say, the village sarpanch or panchayat leader - people’s first level of contact with authority - the people are already enabled. This is the reason why the Legal Aid Cell’s plan of spreading legal literacy is so important,” says Prof. Padmavati.
The Cell will also provide assistance on cyber issues, assist in the protection of indigenous crafts and other areas where its expertise in intellectual property rights will be needed. It will run the Legal Aid and IP Facilitation camp and on Saturdays in order to provide assistance to whoever may require it.
A significant activity of the Cell will be to provide IPR protection service, especially where its expertise is needed in building a case for Geographical Indications (GI) and registering it. The law school, along with the IPR Cell of the Institute, undertook a project in the previous academic year to send out students on internships to various regions of India to find out the scope of GI for indigenous art forms and commercial products whose production is restricted to specific geographical areas only. The students came up with products like Ahomiya jewellery, Sojat Mehndi, Kalkatti jewellery, unique embroidery patterns and so on. The documentation process for GI for Goyna Bori from Midnapore is partly done and the Part-I registration form details are being prepared. Several important considerations arise in relation to GI filing. The details of origin, community details and, more importantly, understanding the linkages are required. To some extent, due to the export potential, it is possible that some GIs will also require technical help. In our visit to the SME department we found that the drying process for Goyna Bori is very arduous and the packaging of it is a very delicate process. The need for technical help has been recognized to leverage the potential of this exquisite art unique to West Bengal.
Apart from this, the law school has plans to create a group of paralegal volunteers who will work with the District Legal Services. This will help students learn the practical aspects of what they study in class. The in-Charge of the Legal Aid and IP Facilitation Cell, Dr Gaurav Shukla, is supported by a team of faculty and students. Volunteers of the Cell include students pursuing their LL.B, LL.M and doctoral work in the law school. The District Judge of Midnapore, Ms Ananya Bandyopadhyay, has assured the support of the District Legal Services.
Prof. Padmavati also hopes that the Cell will eventually go online in order to provide legal assistance to a larger number of people. The Cell’s motto of social outreach is in sync with IIT’s motto, ‘Dedicated to the service of the nation’.
Hon’ble Justice, Aniruddha Bose, Judge Calcutta High Court and Executive Chairman, West Bengal Legal Services, who inaugurated the Cell earlier this month, wished success to the endeavour and suggested that he would like to see the Cell provide legal solutions in the interface areas of technology and law. Prof. Ajay Kumar, Dean of Academic Affairs, Chanakya National Law University Patna, advised on legal aid camps on the occasion.
The Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law (RGSOIPL) in IIT Kharagpur is a unique law school that was set up in 2006 with a vision of building scientists and engineers into Intellectual Property Lawyers. The School has been set up with the help of generous support of a distinguished alumnus, Vinod Gupta. There has been an increasing relevance of law in relation to technological developments and a requirement of professionals and lawyers with understanding of the interdisciplinary areas of technology and law.
The law school offers a three year LL.B program with specialization in Intellectual Property Law recognized by the Bar Council of India, the LL.M program in various disciplines of law and a doctoral program. The students are science/technology graduates from various disciplines. The school has tied up with several universities and institutes and facilitates student exchange programs.
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