Creating society, the legal way

Meet Nikita Sonavane, co-founder of The Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project (CPA), Bhopal

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Would you look at law as an instrument for social change? Nikita was struck by the impact that knowledge of law can have during an internship with a social organisation. Keen to get an in-depth socio legal aspect, Nikita joined the University and started a journey, reflecting, thinking through the framework of many ideas for social justice and enriching her learnings.

The state of Vimukta communities, denotified tribes in Bhopal, wherein they are regularly falsely prosecuted for theft, house breaking, dacoity, possession of arms and liquor, etc., and face a wide gap in their legal representation and the realisation that legal systems are inherently casteist in nature made me start the CPA Project in partnership with a colleague. 

CPA is a grassroots litigation-research based intervention focussed on the criminalisation of certain communities by the Police and the criminal justice system and on decarceration. It provides legal representation through effective legal strategies, case-research, access to higher courts, studies violations of fundamental rights and of statutory law within the criminal justice process and sometimes outside the fold of the legal process. Currently, CPA is working on building a good research base and utilising it by taking it back to people through campaigns and getting a voice for it.

The process of working on these issues is daunting but unparalleled to everyday violence faced by Vimukta communities. So, it is important to ensure that we are centring the voices of the people whose struggle it is.” reflects Nikita. She says that this journey has a long road ahead and promises to dabble with law in many ways.

Nikita Sonavane did her Master of Laws (Law and Development) in 2016 – 17.