But let Justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream! Amos 5:24
The legal intervention by Dominican Sisters through Matruchhaya has made difference in the lives of many poor and marginalized people. Our legal intervention has become possible only because of the networking with Jesuits of Gujarat Province, particularly to Ashadeep (Anand) and Nyay Darshan (Vadodara) and other N.G.Os & Civil Society who come to our institution to help us in person.
Our vision is making Right to Equality as well as Right to Live with Human dignity, as a reality in the villages where we work.
As I have mentioned about our vision of Matruchhaya so I may put in other words our legal action AIMS to bring Justice, Peace & Equality.
Matruchhaya legal cell came into existence in year 2014 as soon as I acquired my Sanat (Registered as a practicing advocate). The cell conducted the first workshop for our Umreth deanery fathers, sisters & lay people who were involved at grass root level. The topics covered were: “The Sexual Harassments of Women at the work place (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act 2013. After that we received support from Ashadeep (Anand) to have regular basis Lok Adalat and legal Workshop, Camp & Seminar at different places.
We are aware of the situation of our courts in India. A large section of people are not able to access the legal system due to its complicity, heavy financial burden, poor accessibility and long procedure.
That old saying, justice delayed is justice denied, sadly holds true for India. According to official figures, there are more than 27 million legal cases pending in various courts in India.
In our legal action we follow ADR techniques, that is, Alternative Dispute Resolution. ADR has five methods (1) Arbitration (2) Conciliation (3) Judicial Settlement (4) Adalat (5) Mediation. We the team of lawyers in Matruchhaya follow two types of methods the Lok Adalat & the Mediation.
The very name of Lok Adalat suggests “People’s Courts”. Mediation is a voluntary, party centered and structured negotiation process where a neutral third party assists the parties in amicably resolving their dispute by using specialized communication and negotiation techniques.
The above two methods are followed regularly by us. On first Thursday of every month Lok Adalat is held in our house. The team of lawyers from Ashadeep comes to Balasinor to assist me. The procedure is followed during the month where the concerned party comes to meet me. The dispute which they share, everything is written down and documented. The concerned party is called again during Lok Adalat day. The matter is discussed with other lawyers too than a notice is issued to the opposite party which is sent by registered AD, following month both the parties come together to our center. We have separate sessions or joint sessions with concerned parties. We make the parties feel at home with us. We tell them it is voluntary sharing, non-adjudicatory, confidential, time-bound, internal and flexible, direct and active participation of parties. It is party centered and in impartiality of mediator. We have every month 15 to 20 matters coming to us.
The issues settled by us related to marriage, property, maintenance, and custody of child, negligence of the doctor, bouncing of the cheques, violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Rights and many other issues. This is called outside court settlement. If the dispute or matters are not able to settle in our centre either or parties are free to go to the court of law. It is here that I appear as an Advocate on behalf of the parties in the Court of Law.
We are happy that through our legal intervention we have settled many matters outside the court. The people coming to us have got faith and trust in our legal action. In different villages, Talukas, District and States we are spreading legal awareness about the existing Laws, amendments to the law and all the government schemes. The networking and collaboration with other like mind people, has made legal intervention of Dominican Sisters possible.
Our legal literacy has empowered the marginalized, oppressed and downtrodden society. Now the village women who were not able to speak before the government officers are drafting their own applications and approach the government officers to demand their rightful entitlements. Some village leaders have received government schemes for all the villages. Our legal intervention is just a drop of water in a vast ocean but that drop is making a difference in the life of people, especially the marginalized.
I would like to share with you one of the cases in which justice was denied to the victim’s family and through our intervention justice was brought at their door steps.
“Gopal Takore (Name changed) hails from Othward village of Balasinor Taluka and Mahisagar District. He was married to Sangita, 2 years back. Gopal is only 25 years of age and his wife Sangita is 22 years old. They two were married 2years ago but Sangita was unable to bear a child. The family members advised her to consult the doctor. They had gone to Bayard Hospital in which doctor is specialized in fertility test. The consultation with the doctor went on for a long time. The doctor advised Sangita that she has to undergo a minor surgery. The couple completely believed the doctor and took the decision for minor surgery. On10th of August 2018 Sangita was admitted in the hospital, the same day the surgery was performed on her by a student doctor, the main doctor never appeared in the operation theatre. The minor surgery lasted for 3 and half hours. When she was out of Operation Theater the husband was told to give her only ice- cream. She was unable to take any food. She was vomiting all throughout but no doctors came to see the progress of the patient. Her body had a swelling and she was unable to pass urine. After three days Sangita became very serious, her husband was told to take the patient home. He refused to take her home than hospital suggested that she should be shifted to the city hospital at Ahmedabad. Gopal her husband arranged the vehicle and shifted her to Ahmedabad. In Ahmedabad the doctors advised to undergo all the types of test. Than it was diagnosed that both the kidneys were damaged and she should be put immediately on dialyses. Gopal was asked to arrange 20 bottles of blood for her. He called his father in the village and asked to arrange Rs.2 lacs for her treatment. Gopal’s father had a small plot of land which he sold and took Rs. 2 lacs. 20 bottles of blood was arranged. Next day the doctors took in writing that they would not be responsible if anything happens during dialysis. Same noon they began the dialysis for her and after one hour the doctor comes out and tells Gopal and his father that she is no more; you go and file the case against the doctors. The cause of her death is the Byard Hospital, while performing the minor surgery had ruptured her bladder
The dead body was not handed over to the family for 2 days. They were made to run from pillar to post. Since she died in Ahmedabad they went to file a case with the Ahmedabad police. The police told them that she was operated in Bayard hospital so the case need to be filed there. The police were not helpful to them at all.
After 20 days, of her death the principal from the Othward School called me that I could help this family, immediately I got into the action and consulted the senior advocate who advised me to call them to Matruchhaya with all the information.
Following week we called them to the Lok Adalat at Matruchhaya. We examined all the reports they had regarding Sangita and we drafted a fresh FIR (First information Report) FIR copy was sent to District Collector, PSI of Bayard police station and the concerned doctors. After that Gopal began to receive many calls from the doctors to settle the matter with 5 lacs Rupees. Gopal consulted us and we advised him to ask 50 lacs compensation for the medical negligence and doctors should be punished with the law of the land. This particular case would have taken 10 years in the criminal court but through our legal intervention we settled the matter within two months.”
I believe that legal action or legal intervention is the new way of evangelization for the poor. It is the good news for the poor that they can hope for the better tomorrow and there is a battalion of committed and life daring companions to accompany them to a better future.
Sr.Manjula Tuscano OP.