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 Consultant – Access to Justice for Marginalized People
 UNDP India

 Location: New Delhi
 Last Date: April 27, 2009
 Email: (Reference:

 Post Title : Consultant – Access to Justice for Marginalized People

Organization : United Nations Development Programme

Duty Station : New Delhi

Type of Contract : Special Service Agreement (SSA)

Duration : Three months


Access to justice is now recognized as being essential to human development, for ensuring democratic governance, in reducing poverty and for the purpose of conflict prevention. India’s judicial and legal system has many strengths: excellent constitutional and legal safeguards for access to justice; well-established institutions; a relatively independent and activist judiciary, a vibrant NGO sector and an independent media. The country has progressive laws in many areas such as the recognition of historical injustices, importance of group rights, positive discrimination for marginalized groups, including for women, and right to information. However, the system faces two main challenges: backlog leading to delays and limited access to justice. While an overloaded legal system negatively affects all persons, poor and marginalized groups are the worst affected. Government priorities in legal and judicial reform include improving the efficiency of the justice system and reducing backlog and delay.

Legal Aid

India’s legal and judicial system also provides legal aid services, including alternative dispute resolution for certain matters (known as Lok Adalats). Legal aid is a fundamental right in India and the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (LSAA), provides for free legal aid to vulnerable groups. The statute institutionalized the system of legal aid delivery by setting up the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in 1995. NALSA has identified some major constraints in carrying out its mandate to the poor and disadvantaged women and men at the national, state and local levels including weak planning, budgeting and implementation capacities.

Decentralisation of justice

The need to de-centralize the formal judicial mechanisms is a priority in India as the formalities and centralized structures of the justice system place justice beyond the reach of rural poor. The Gram Nyayalaya Act, 2008, will help to decentralise the judicial structure, make it more accessible to the marginalized sections of the population. There is however a need to carefully examine its provisions and also conduct some pilot programmes to carefully assess its impact on rural communities and within the justice delivery mechanism in general.

Legal awareness

In many instances, poor and marginalised women and men are unable to seek the protection of the law or take advantage of rights or public services they are entitled to simply because they are unaware that they exist. In cases where they may be aware of the existence of the laws or rights, they may not be aware of how to use the law in order to claim or enforce their rights or entitlements.

There is a clear recognition by the Government of India of its primary duty in ensuring legal awareness. State legal services authorities and NGOs are involved in a variety of legal literacy activities. However, increased public legal education and information initiatives are urgently needed and essential to improve access to justice for marginalized groups. The media, particularly community radio and television, are extremely useful tools for public legal information and education campaigns in both rural and urban areas. Further, it is important that sufficient legal information is able to reach the poor in forms that they are able to understand, digest and utilise.

GOI-UNDP Access to Justice Programme:

UNDP defines Access to Justice as, “the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through the formal or informal institutions of justice, and in conformity with human rights standards” and recognizes that access to justice includes the ability to access the judicial system but has a broader scope than mere litigation. It is a right to live within an environment of rights where such rights are effectively protected. Within this broad paradigm, the term ‘access to justice’ includes two major concerns - guaranteeing human rights and ensuring capacity development of state institutions and citizens to ensure the protection of those rights.

The results of the first phase of UNDP’s support to ‘Strengthened Access to Justice in India’ (SAJI I) 2006-2008, have provided key and critical inputs into the design of a long-term programme of assistance in this area. Lessons learned from the first stage of the programme and consultations with stakeholders in the GOI, several justice institutions, CSOs, and defence lawyers highlighted the imperative to strategically engage with the critical institutions who are mandated to deliver justice to the poor.

The second phase of GoI-UNDP Access to Justice programme is positioned within the over-arching objective of United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2008-2012, of “promoting social, economic and political inclusion for the most disadvantaged, especially women and girls.” The formulation of the UNDAF was guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the GOI’s Eleventh Five Year Plan. In line with the UNDAF, UNDP’s Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) sets out as one outcome, the establishment of systems and mechanisms to provide poor women and men and excluded groups with access to justice at the local level in at least 5 states in India. Towards this outcome, the UNDP Country Programme will focus its efforts to increase the ability of vulnerable groups to seek remedies and of service providers to deliver justice in conformity with national and international human rights principles and standards.

The programme will focus on the one hand on improving institutional capacities of key justice service providers to enable them to effectively serve the poor and disadvantaged and on the other hand, on directly empowering the poor and disadvantaged men and women to seek and demand justice services. In line with the strategy pursued in the pilot stage, the programme will build on and strengthen strategic partnerships with both state and non-state (CSOs, CBOs, NGOs) actors for improved access to justice.

The programme envisages the design and establishment of a funding mechanism which will be responsive in nature and will facilitate support to initiatives related to legal empowerment, awareness and legal aid. This would be a flexible, quick-turn around mechanism to use for initiatives contributing to the overall programme.

Duties and Responsibilities:

UNDP is looking for a Consultant who will be responsible for assisting in roll out of start –up activities in the project

A) The incumbent will carry out the following tasks:
a) Develop Terms of Reference for commissioning a number of studies and activities including setting baseline studies, capacity assessments and design of comprehensive capacity development strategy for NALSA, state and district level agencies, and perception surveys of poor women and men from marginalised groups to determine key institutional bottlenecks for access to justice in sample districts in UNDAF states.
b) Support Governance Unit, UNDP, in managing the procurement process for selection of resource institutions to undertake activities described in a) in coordination with Procurement Unit.
c) Design a funding mechanism to facilitate initiatives in the area of legal empowerment, awareness and legal aid.

B) Deliverables and Time lines

Deliverables are as described in section A) above. The consultant will be required to submit deliverables as per timelines for commissioning studies and baselines outlined in the Annual Workplan for the project.

The Consultant will report to the Head, Democratic Governance Unit, UNDP and will work in close collaboration with UNDP and Department of Justice.

Educational Qualifications
Master degree or equivalent in relevant field – development studies, economics, political economy, public policy, and law.

Minimum 5 years of relevant experience and a good understanding of India’s legal and judicial system and barriers the poor and marginalised communities face in social, economic and political domains.

Good command of the English language, including excellent writing skills. Working knowledge of Hindi and excellent communication skills required.

Interested candidates should submit their application by email to or by ordinary mail to the UNDP, Post Box No. 3059, 55 Lodi Estate, New Delhi - 110 003, India. The closing date of application is 27 April 2009.

Interested candidates should apply for the vacancy by sending email to or addressed to the Procurement Division, United Nations Development Programme, 55, Lodi Estate, New Delhi 110003.

Last date to received applications: 27 April 2009

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