BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
Atmabodh is an all India not for profit organisation with its head office in New Delhi. Registered as a society in 1999, it was originally founded by a group of students of Campus Law Centre, New Delhi with encouragement from seniors from Bar and Professors at the Campus Law Centre. Late Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer was its first Patron. It was formed with a vision to pursue independent vigorous pursuit of human rights for all. In the early days, it was involved in legal aid in prison. Atmabodh is an apolitical organization.
CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT OF LEGAL PROFESSIONALS to enhance access to justice for All
USE OF TECHNOLOGY BY THE LEGAL FRATERNITY:
Since 25th March 2020 as soon as the country wide lockdown was announced due to COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Maurya Vijay Chandra, Founder Member and Secretary, Atmabodh and Advocate, Supreme Court, began working on a video-conferencing platform and began working with lawyers of Delhi High Court as well as Patna to empower them and upskill them to the new normal of working from home.
E-simulation workshop were conducted for groups of 3-4 participants enabling hands on experience of using Microsoft Teams, how to present case documents using video conferencing features. Over 100 Lawyers including some prominent local lawyers of Patna have benefitted from this project.
E-Court environments are simulated by Dr. Chandra and participant advocates learn the skills required for arguing in E-courts and practise it though simulation briefs.
Presently, training for Central Government counsels are also being conducted as a part of this exercise for paperless hearing.
E-MOOT COURT COMPETITION
Dr. S. N. Jha Memorial E Moot Court Competition on 26th April 2020 by Atmabodh. The e-moot court competition was judged by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mohit Kumar Shah, Judges of the Patna High Court. While declaring the results Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mohit Kumar Shah remarked that if lawyers make us of such simulation courts, a lot many more matters can be taken up in the e-courts and the e-courts will function smoothly.
- One of the first projects of Atmabodh, in 2000, was capacity building workshops for law students in Patna for protection of child rights and to secure their release from prisons. This initiative was kickstarted by a workshop inaugurated by the then Acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.P. Singh.
- Atmabodh also organized a lecture series on human rights and criminal justice reforms, which was delivered amongst others by the then Chairperson of the NHRC Late Hon’ble Mr. Justice J.S. Verma, Gopal Subramanium, Sr. Advocate and the then Prof-in-Charge of the Campus Law Centre, Prof. B. B. Pande.
- Atmabodh also organized lectures at the Centre for Human Rights of the London School of Economics on Indian perspective on Human Rights, which was delivered by Prof. M.P. Singh, a renowned constitutional expert and Mr. A.K. Mehta, a renowned mining law specialist in the Jharkhand High Court.
- Atmabodh is now organising memorial lecture series to celebrate the life and achievements of stalwart lawyers of Patna High Court. Memorial lectures in the memory of Late Dr. S N Jha, Late Abhoy Kumar Singh, Late Justice P S Mishra, Late Chandradhekhar, Late Sreenath Singh and Late Brajkishore Prashad have been organised. Emininent speakers in these lectures include Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh, Judge, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Chkradhari Sharan Singh, Judge, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyaya, Judge, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ashutosh Kumar, Judge, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mohit Kumar Shah, Judge, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Justice S N Jha (retd.), Former Chief Justice, J&K and Rajasthan High Courts, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mihir Kumar Jha, Former Judge, Patna High Court & Member (Judicial), Lokayukta, Bihar, Hon’ble Justice Smt. Anjana Prakash (retd.), Former Judge, Patna High Court, Mr. Rakesh Kumar Samrendra, Advocate, Dr. Maurya Vijay Chandra, Advocate, Mr. Binodanand Mishra, Advocate.
APPLIED LAW WORKSHOPS
- Atmabodh, in collaboration with other institutions, has organized more than 50 one-day workshops till date. Areas of law included law relating to privacy, criminal trial, arbitration, intellectual property rights, Civil Procedure Code, etc. HMJ Deepak Mishra, Judge Supreme Court of India,# HMJ Pradeep Nandrajog, Judge, Delhi High Court,# HMJ S. Muralidhar, Judge, Delhi High Court# as also HMJ Aparesh Kumar Singh, Judge, Jharkhand High Court, HMJ Dinesh Kumar Singh, HMJ Ashutosh Kumar, HMJ Anil Kumar Upadhyay, HMJ Sanjay Kumar, HMJ Mohit Kumar Shah, Judges of Patna High Court among others, have delivered inaugural/ plenary lectures in the workshops.
- These one-day workshops are intensive 8 hours master classes. The philosophy behind the workshops is to equip participants with enough skills in a day so that they are able to execute a specific client instruction independently.
- In 2018-19 Atmabodh, in collaboration with Adyopant Legal carried out a campaign to build capacity of lawyers at district level in the field of arbitration. Workshops were held in Delhi, Patna, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur and Gaya as a part of Atmabodh’s mission to increase access to justice through capacity building of lawyers.
# As his Lordship then was.
WORK IN Progressive Realisation of HUMAN RIGHTS
- Student volunteered initiatives of identifying and securing the release of juveniles from prisons in Patna, Hajipur in Bihar and Garhwa in Jharkhand.
- Student volunteers of Atmabodh have also carried out campaigns of legal awareness street plays in the jails in and around Patna.
- Patna law students have also been the engine of adaptation of booklets on rights and obligations of prison inmates in major dialects spoken in Bihar.
- In 2019, law students of Muzaffarpur came together to run a legal aid camp for farmers at Sonepur fair primarily to enable farmers to complete legal formalities required to export their agricultural produce.
Atmabodh continues to engage with law students and invites them to suggest human rights projects of their interest and helps students implement their ideas.
- Atmabodh is also working towards being a think tank in India. Atmabodh’s ongoing series of conferences on the working of Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code is one such activity, which has brought together key persons from the legal and other profession, the judiciary and the industry to evaluate and critique the developing law of insolvency in India. The first such conference was held in September 2019 in Mumbai. Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.J. Mukopadhaya (retd.), Chairperson of the NCLAT and Former Judge, Supreme Court of India inaugurated the conference.
- Atmabodh has been organising Inter School Street Play Competitions annually for many years in Delhi with the final round of performances taking place in Connaught Place in Delhi.
- Atmabodh has been organising Inter School Drawing and Painting Competitions annually for many years in Delhi and Patna.
- Mr. A K Chhabra, Advocate, Delhi High Court (President)
- Mr. Arvind Gupta, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court, (Vice-President)
- Dr. Maurya Vijay Chandra, Advocate, Supreme Court (Secretary)
- Mr. Gurpreet Singh Sethi, Advcate, Delhi High Court, (Treasurer)
- Mr. Anurag Singh, Advocate, Supreme Court, (Jt. Secretary), and,
- Mr. Naveen Kumar, Advocate on Record, (Member).
Atmabodh has a life membership of 33 persons, primarily from the legal profession. It also has associate members, who after three years of consistent engagement with its activities are eligible for life membership.
Atmabodh’s activities are funded primarily by internal resources of its members. Project specific funding is sometimes granted by external organizations. For example, UNICEF funded a part of the legal services programme in Patna Jails in the year 2000. Booklets on rights and obligations of prison inmates in local dialects were published with the help of Aid & Advice (A legal aid society based in Patna High Court). The Delhi State Legal Services Authority had partly funded the Legal Awareness Street Play Competition in the last few years. The current series of memorial lectures to celebrate the life and achievements of legendary practitioners of Patna High Court is not funded by any other external source.