India has recorded over 2.9 crore COVID-19 cases, with a total of over 3.8 lakh fatalities since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. During this time, several questions have arisen in the minds of citizens, such as the laws around lockdown, pandemic management and vaccination, among others. To assist in tackling such legal issues, Bengaluru-based organisation Nyaaya, an open access digital resource, has launched a ‘COVID Legal Helpline’. The helpline is currently operational in four languages including three regional languages— Hindi, Kannada and Odia. It can be accessed via Whatsapp, a form on the official Nyaaya website, Facebook (@Nyaaya - English, Hindi, Kannada), Twitter (@NyaayaIN), Instagram (@nyaayaorg), Quora, Koo and LinkedIn.
The helpline can be used to avail continuous, real-time assistance on a variety of queries. The include understanding curfew regulations and consequences of violating lockdown restrictions, dealing with situations of domestic violence and child abuse, availing compensation for COVID-19 deaths, and defending against medical negligence and hospital exploitation. A volunteer cohort of senior lawyers and law students provides answers to the queries in real time. The user gets up-to-date and verified information tailored specifically to their question. The platform also aims on bridging the urban-rural divide when it comes to flow of legal knowledge.
Under this initiative, Nyaaya has collaborated with various non-government organisations, civil society organisations as well as professionals who provide comprehensive information on various legal topics. While this helpline is primarily meant to address legal questions, it answers other COVID-19 related queries with verified resources and information.
Have questions on the vaccination registration process, lockdown fines, wills or any other issue the pandemic has created for you?— Nyaaya (@NyaayaIN) June 7, 2021
Just Whatsapp us your question at +91 96501 08107. Share your question, the state you live in, your name (optional). https://t.co/ytQg9FF0yL pic.twitter.com/IAzbxknO0L
Nyaaya was conceived by Rohini Nilekani and was incubated at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (“Vidhi”). According to the Nyaaya website, it aims to help young Indians solve day-to-day legal problems in order to increase their awareness of their rights and empower them to seek justice under the law.