‘Your Lawyer Friend‘ (YLF), an initiative taken up by Legal Collective for Students Rights (LCSR) intended for legally aiding and protecting the right causes of students is continuing on its path of assisting students with legalities. The group assists students sued by authorities, who seek legal protection and those facing similar issues that have become common in educational institutions.
‘The inception of YLF was an immediate reaction to the death of Jishnu Pranoy, a student of Nehru College of Engineering, Thrissur,’ said Arjun, the head of the organisation. ‘We realised Jishnu’s was not an isolated incident, but a result of a larger problem- the profit mongering, unregulated private college managements,’ he added.
Jishnu, a first-year engineering student of Nehru College of Engineering and Research, a private institution in Thrissur, was found dead in his college under mysterious circumstances on January 6th. Students across political affiliations in the college went on strike on January 10th and alleged that Jishnu had died because of torture and harassment. They and Jishnu’s family did not believe that he had committed suicide. Some said that he was beaten up and hung.
Understanding the need and potential of such an organisation, Arjun talked to Kennith, a graduate of National University for Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS). A set of like-minded students from Calicut Government Law College and NUALS together with High Court lawyers Adv. Manu Sebastian, Adv. Legith and Advocate Soorya Binoy took the initiative forward. Mr Shamnas, the CEO of Bodhi Information Solutions came forward offering technical support free of cost.
‘Being part of a common law system, our public policy is largely determined by litigations and judicial precedents. Due to the lack of resources on the part of students, their voices go unheard in courts and the management, on the other hand, hire high profile lawyers. We wanted to bridge this gap,’ said Arjun. YLF began with 3 cases involving 7 clients of which 5 were from the Nehru College of Engineering.
‘I was asked to repay one lakh rupees which I received through a fee waiver scheme of AICTE. I am now preparing for a legal battle, all thanks to LCSR,’ said a client from Calicut. Another student from Nehru College sought the help of YLF on being refused the certificates he required to join elsewhere without paying the entire course fees. LCSR took up the case and managed to get a hearing in front of the fee regulatory committee who ordered the certificates to be given back. The client now intends to join a different college and is happy. “This wouldn’t be possible without team LCSR,’ he said. YLF has taken up more than 150 cases as of now.
Speaking of the challenges they face, Arjun said that the response from the public was disappointing. ‘Parents see us with suspicion when we offer a helping hand to the children. I remember a friend telling me that her father enquired whether I was a Maoist when I suggested solutions to their issues. They are afraid of change and advise children to adjust with the status quo,’ he said.
Students can access YLF’s services through their website. YLF currently operates in Kozhikode, Trivandrum and Ernakulam.