The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is an initiative of the Institute for Development Education and Learning (IDEAL), a socio-legal non-governmental organization (NGO) registered under the aegis of the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 in Gujarat, India. It is one of the first organizations of its kind in India with the aim to pursue justice and uphold and promote human rights. The CSJ began operating through a network of law centres among vulnerable sections of society across Gujarat. Today, it has expanded operations to several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. These centres consist of a team of lawyers, paralegals and researchers who take a holistic approach to human rights by providing litigative support as well as outreach to villages through law clinics. The main focus of these legal centres has been to defend the rights of women, Dalits, tribals, minorities and other socially vulnerable groups. Today, the CSJ responds to almost 3,000 cases annually through these law centres. The law centres operate to provide:
- Legal aid: Individual problems of people are addressed on a one-on-one basis.
- Legal awareness: Proliferation of information about legal rights through awareness programmes.
- Alternative dispute resolution mechanism (ADR): Agencies other than courts are set up for settling disputes. This includes activating state mechanisms, like permanent conciliation boards and family counselling centres.
- Law reform: Existing laws are challenged for not being sensitive to the needs of the vulnerable groups.
In addition to providing litigative support to secure the rights of the vulnerable groups, the CSJ takes up public advocacy campaigns, identifies human rights violations and serves as a watchdog for human rights abuses. It has played a pioneering role in demonstrating the successful operation of institutional intervention in the field of law. It has extensive experience training lawyers, law students, members of the lower judiciary, paralegals and socio-legal counsellors.