Bharti Enterprises yesterday announced an unusual CSR initiative. From April 2016, it will roll out a first-of-its-kind corporate initiative to provide legal assistance and aid, and awareness / literacy to underprivileged undertrials across the country. Nyaya Bharti, as the initiative is called, will help the undertrials by paying the bail and surety amounts. The initiative will be solely focused on district courts where criminal cases are initiated.
Bharti Airtel will provide an annual grant of Rs10 crore on an ongoing basis towards this initiative. Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Enterprises, will take a voluntary cut of Rs5 crore from his annual salary towards this cause. Several leading lawyers from across the country have extended their support to the initiative and will provide pro-bono services. Top law firm AZB & Partners and Ernst & Young will also provide pro-bono legal, administrative and governance support respectively. “Just because a poor individual cannot afford the services of a lawyer, or cannot stump up a small amount for bail bond or surety, he or she should not be denied justice,” says chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. Nyaya Bharti is a small start, and Mittal hopes more people, in particular, from the legal fraternity and corporate India will come forward to support this cause.
It is estimated that there are over 280,000 undertrials in approximately 1,387 jails in India constituting nearly 68 per cent of the total prisoner population. This proportion is amongst the world’s 10 worst (Data Source: NCRB reports). Many of these undertrials have been in custody for periods longer than the prison term had they had been convicted. Most of these undertrials suffer in jails simply because of their ignorance of the law and their rights to liberty, their inability to pay the amounts required for bails and bonds and lack of persons to stand surety.
The initiative will supplement the work being done by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) under the statutory framework created under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987. It will have a screening committee of independent persons that will identify the cases that need to be taken up.
Nyaya Bharti will be ready to start functioning in the coming months and ensure that the Board, screening committee and the team of lawyers are all in place to start giving its first grant from April 1, 2016.
The Nyaya Bharti initiative will work under the aegis of Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, and will have a separate Governing Board. It will be headquartered in New Delhi and will be headed by Justice A.S. Anand (retired Chief Justice of India).
The Board of Nyaya Bharti:
|1. Justice A.S. Anand (Retired Chief Justice of India), Chairman|
|2. Mr. Harish N Salve, Former Solicitor General of India and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India|
|3. Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India|
|4. Ms. Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson & Editorial Director, Hindustan Times Group|
|5. Dr. Sanjaya Baru, Director for Geo-Economics and Strategy, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS)|
|6. Mr. Ajay Bahl, Founder & Senior Partner, AZB & Partners|
|7. Mr. Rajiv Memani, Chairman of the Global Emerging Markets Committee, EY|
|8. Mr. Gopal Jain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India|
|9. Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder & Chairman, Bharti Enterprises|
|10. Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises|
|11. Mr. Deven Khanna, Group Director – Chairman’s Office, Bharti Enterprises|
|12. Ms. Vijaya Sampath, Senior Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan|