Human Rights Law Network


Corporate Social Responsibility

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Exciting prospects for Corporate Social Responsibility Projects

CSR in India is yet to come of age. It is generally perceived as charity where a corporate house establishes a school or distributes books and medicines and so on. That is, no doubt, an admirable thing to do. The question to be asked, however, is whether the intervention of the company brings about real change or whether the beneficiaries will continue to be eternally dependent on the company. The Socio Legal Information Centre (SLIC) takes the “Empowerment” approach. If poor people are trained to understand their legal rights and how to access justice, many deprivations can be overcome by the actions of the people themselves. This is compatible with the provisions of the Company Act 2015, particularly Section 135 and Schedule VII of the Act. This Schedule is illustrative and not exhaustive and it is open for corporations to define their own CSR projects.

SLIC is a legal aid and legal training registered NGO which operates as a Public Society and Trust authorised to receive foreign donations under FCRA and exempted from tax under 80G of the Income Tax Act. The activities of SLIC -- or the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), which is a division of SLIC -- may be seen from www.hrln.org and www.iptindia.org and www.reproductiverights.hrln.org. In short, SLIC provides free legal services to the poor in the areas of:

Legal Aid

Women’s Empowerment

Women’s Empowerment: Trafficking, violence against women including domestic violence, sexual assaults, sexual harassment, witch hunting, legal aid for victims of acid attacks, etc.

Child Empowerment

Child Empowerment: Sexual abuse, trafficking, violence against children, children in jails, child labour etc.

The Right to Education

The Right to Education: Although the central government has enacted The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, recent government data indicate that 34.5 million children are out of school, there is a shortfall of 1 million trained teachers, lakhs of schools are required to be constructed, the provision for 25% of children in private schools to be taken from the poor has not been implemented, the provision for separate toilets for boys and girls has not been implemented, and generally the implementation of the law is in very poor shape. Through individual cases and PILs, some High Courts have intervened to correct the system and a PIL is shortly to be filed in the Supreme Court of India.

Prisoners’ Empowerment

Prisoners’ Empowerment: Release of under trials and convict prisoners with special emphasis on indigent prisoners, Muslims, scheduled castes and tribes, disabled persons, women, the old and the ill, campaign for radical prison reform.

The Right to Food

The Right to Food: Using the legal system to enforce the Food Security Act, 2013 to obtain ration cards and subsidised grains for the poor, maternity benefits and supplementary nutrition for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children in the age group 6 months to 6 years; the mid-day meals in schools, the proper functioning of the Anganwadis etc.

Disability Empowerment

Disability Empowerment: Litigation in favour of and training of disabled persons on access, reservation in employment and education, combating violence against disabled persons, disability and education with special emphasis on disabled women and children.

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive Rights: On this issue the law is used combat maternal and child mortality by ensuring that nutritional rights are met, the public health system is forced to meet the Indian Public Health System Standards in terms of blood banks, emergency obstetric care and that the staff required is recruited and in place. This initiative also uses the law to combat child marriages. Abortion rights have been expanded enormously through Supreme Court decisions that have recognised foetal abnormality as a ground for abortions. For further details see www.reproductiverights.hrln.org

SC/ST Empowerment

SC/ST Empowerment: Combating, through the use of the law, violence and discrimination against SC/ST and campaigns against atrocities and instances of untouchability with special emphasis on SC/ST, women and children.

Bonded and Unorganised Labour

Bonded and Unorganised Labour: This legal initiative covers domestic workers, construction labour, agricultural labour, bonded labour, labour trafficking, etc.

Homelessness and Housing Rights

Homelessness and Housing Rights: Litigating against the demolition of slums and the eviction of the urban poor, the campaign for housing rights, working towards new policies for housing the urban poor with dignity.

The Right to Healthcare

The Right to Healthcare: Using the legal system to impose a ceiling on drug prices, to increase the budget for healthcare from 1% to 3%, to eliminate all dangerous drugs, to enforce ethical norms in the healthcare sector to combat the rank commercialisation and exploitation of the poor in the healthcare system, to strengthen public healthcare etc.

Environment Rights

Environment Rights: To use the legal system and particularly the National Green Tribunal to protect the destruction of the environment with particular emphasis on poor communities. Pollution of rivers, cutting of trees, commercial exploitation of forest areas, noise pollution, air pollution are some of the issues taken up in the courts.

HIV AIDS Rights

Rights of People living with HIV/AID: Legal aid against violence and discrimination, non-providing of anti-retrovirals and antibiotics, discrimination in employment and education resulting in termination of services and removal from schools, non-availability of treatment kits and other services and benefits in respect of health and travel, etc.

Refugee Empowerment

Refugee Empowerment: Since the Indian Constitution protects the lives of Indians as well as foreigners this initiative focuses on using the law to ensure that violence and discrimination against refugees is stopped. The law is used to prevent forcible deportation and generally to ensure that those who flee persecution live a life of dignity.

Tribal Empowerment

Tribal Empowerment: To combat violence against tribals, particularly women to combat the high levels of malnutrition prevailing in tribals and remote areas etc.

 

Trainings on Law

Litigation would be unsuccessful unless it is simultaneously accompanied by legal trainings on a large scale where trainers travel out to remote areas and carry out the trainings amongst those who need it most. These trainings are often done by lawyers, academics, judges, law students and social activists. They are done in every state of India and also at the national level.

 

Support a Lawyer

SLIC also has a “support a lawyer” scheme where corporations could sponsor a lawyer to do pro-bono public interest work. This would require monthly payments from Rs. 25,000 – 50,000 for specific areas of work and depending on the seniority of the lawyers concerned.

 

Support Infrastructure

Corporations could also support by donating computers, office furniture, mobile phones and so on.

You can find an overview of our initiatives here and awards won by us here.

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contact@hrln.org

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.