When journalists are under threat, truth is under threat. With the growth and facility of digital tools the press in India are facing legal threats more than ever before. IFF in collaboration with the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) launched the Digital Patrakar Defence Clinic (DPDC) in September to provide pro bono legal assistance to journalists. DPDC will continue to provide pro bono legal assistance throughout the year. We have described the need for DPDC in our previous post here. In this post we highlight who can apply for the Clinic and how (quick tip: fill this form), and the pro bono legal services offered.
What are the services offered at DPDC?
At DPDC, the following pro bono legal services can be availed by individual journalists:
- Direct Legal Representation: Pro Bono direct legal representation to reporters facing immediate legal action as a consequence of their reporting.
- Research and drafting assistance: The centre will provide research and drafting assistance to lawyers representing individual journalists on technology related issues where we have special expertise.
- Pre-publication guidance: Prevention is always better than cure, and our lawyers will provide pre-publication review and guidance to journalists who are working on high-risk stories which could lead to litigation.
- Second opinions: The Clinic will provide a second opinion to journalists who already have their own legal team but require confirmation that the course of action being adopted in their case is appropriate.
- Reference and access to our network of lawyers in India: The centre will refer journalists who require legal representation before trial and appellate courts to pro bono lawyers in their city or town who can handle their case on a day to day basis.
Note: DPDC is conducted every week as a pro bono one-on-one legal consultation clinic where journalists can speak directly with expert lawyers - Mr Abhinav Sekhri and Ms Sanjana Srikumar. The clinic is not a workshop, webinar or talk. Here, journalists will get an opportunity to receive legal advice and legal support, including direct pro bono legal representation, in cases that they may be facing, or anticipate facing, in a safe and confidential environment. Journalists can also avail of this opportunity to seek answers to any general or specific legal queries that they may have related to their professional practice.
Who can avail of the services offered at DPDC?
We take an inclusive approach in defining the word “Journalist”. The term “journalist” will carry a broad functional perspective, and will include all media workers and support staff, community media workers, cartoonists, and citizen journalists.
How can journalists make use of this Clinic?
Any journalist may fill this form. We will then reach out to them at the email address provided by them with the details of the zoom meeting at which our partner lawyers will be available. The journalist may then attend the zoom meeting at the appointed time, and have a direct one-on-one pro bono consultation with the expert lawyers.
The Clinic will be conducted for one hour every weekend (either Saturday or Sunday, at a time that will be announced well in advance).
The Schedule for October is as follows:
- October 3, Sunday (11 a.m.-12 noon) - Abhinav Sekhri
- October 9, Saturday (6-7 p.m.) - Sanjana Srikumar
- October 17, Sunday (11 a.m.-12 noon) - Abhinav Sekhri
- October 23, Saturday (6-7 p.m.) - Sanjana Srikumar
- October 31, Sunday (11 a.m.-12 noon) - Abhinav Sekhri
This schedule will regularly be updated and posted on DPDC’s Twitter handle and IFF’s Instagram handle.
If you are a media organisation that would like a clinic for your members, or have any questions, email us at [email protected]. If you are a lawyer wanting to become a part of this network get in touch over [email protected]
- Digital Patrakar Defence Clinic Registration Form (link)
- Digital Patrakar Defence Clinic on Twitter - follow us! (link)