The Bar Council of India (BCI) data of 2011 places the number of advocates in the country at approximately 1.2 million plus 4 lakh to 5 lakh students in law colleges, meaning India produces 60,000 to 70,000 lawyers every year. Six year hence, the number has only increased. Last year, 45,050 students applied for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) – surpassing past 9 years record.
Despite the country having such a massive number of lawyers, only a handful are able to burst the money-bubble and work extensively toward the betterment of those in need. One such organisation is the NGO, Farishte Group based in Gurugram, which offers free legal aid to child rape victims, acid-attack victims, helpless women, and senior citizens and women living alone without any support from their family, relatives and friends. Apart from this, the NGO also offers health services to poor people and was recognised by the Haryana government in January 2016 for its efforts in the same.
In 2014, a 30-year old woman and her 9-year old daughter were burned by acid inside their house for refusing advances of a dejected lover, a 22-year old man named Raja. While the mother, Suman, sustained 30% burns on her body, her daughter sustained 5% burns on her head. Suman was hospitalised for 6 months post the attack and two and half years hence, she still faces difficulties in moving and is advised by doctors to not physically strain herself. She hails from a poor family, thus was unwilling to take the legal route.
However, with legal aid provided by the Farishte group free of cost, justice was served on February 8, 2017. The NGO also funds her daughter’s education. During trail, Suman received constant threats to take back the case, but she didn’t succumb to her fears. The District Court of Gurugram awarded life imprisonment to Raja and his friend Azad (28) who helped him execute the attack. A third accused, Arif (23) was acquitted due to the presence of insufficient evidence supporting his involvement in the crime.
The Court also ordered 60% of the income of the convicts, during their jail time, to be given to the victim.
The Logical Indian spoke to Dr. Anju Rawat Negi, an advocate and the Chief Secretary of Farishte Group. She provided us with further details on the work of the Gurugram based NGO which was founded in 2011.
Farishte Group has provided free legal aid to several rape victims. The NGO took a case of a 13-year old minor girl residing in Adipur, Gujarat. Her mother was a sex worker and the girl was kidnapped in February 2013 by her mother’s customers when she was alone in the house. After 22 days when the girl was recovered, she was pregnant. The case was brought to the Farishte Group in May 2013, when the foetus was already developed. They moved the court that the pregnancy be terminated under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), 1971. The termination order was received from the Haryana lower court itself and the NGO also helped the girl get treatment in Artemis Hospital, Gurugram. Furthermore, the accused was incarcerated by court order.
Recounting another incident, Dr, Negi told us about a 2014 case of a 6-year old girl of Wazirabad, Punjab. The girl was brutally raped by a man who later smashed her head with a brick, in hopes of killing her. Contesting the case in court, Farishte Group lawyers claimed that the attempt to murder was made to remove all evidence against the accused. Not only was the accused later convicted for life imprisonment till death, the minor girl also received legal aid and rehabilitation of Rs 2.5 lakh from the NGO.
An on-going case of a girl raped in a metro station in Haryana is also being contested by the NGO in court. The girl was recovered in a distressing condition lying on the station platform – her intestines were pulled out of her body. She received a treatment of 40 days in Artemis hospital, free of cost. The hospital also provided free lodging and food to her family members while she was admitted. The case is on-going as the police haven’t found any suspects yet.
Since its incorporation, Farishte Group has contested 40 such cases, fighting against the brutalities faced by poor and neglected women and children of our society. Apart from free legal aid, the NGO also provides financial assistance and rehabilitation homes to the victims.
The Logical Indian appreciates their efforts to help those whose voices are least heard. Farishte Group is working toward a remarkable cause and we wish that they continue to do the same.