Civil Rights

I-torney pocket lawyer app protects legal rights in India

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In order to exercise their rights, people have to have reliable information about the law. Atlas Network partner the India Institute has developed a new app named “i-torney: your pocket lawyer,” designed to serve as an easily accessible tool to help people in India understand more about their legal rights, especially during interactions with law enforcement. Launched on Jan. 26, the beta version of the i-torney app is now available for Android devices in the Google Play store.

Baladevan Rangaraju, India Institute founder and director, won Atlas Network's $25,000 Think Tank Shark Tank competition at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2014 for his i-torney app pitch.

“I-torney is a mobile application that provides legal first aid — a pocket lawyer that will help India’s population understand its rights, and will serve as an easy accessible tool to empower common man, deter police misconduct and strengthen rule of law,” the India Institute explains. “Police misconduct in India is not confined to small acts of misdemeanor and corruption but brutal acts like long term illegal detention and rape of family members, making an app such as i-torney the need of the hour. The app will act as a catalyst to return the power back to the people and prevent atrocities by those who are paid to protect. The app aims to promote and preserve the rule of law principle, which upholds that the state is governed not by the ruler or the nominated representatives of the people, but by the law. Doing so will curtail police misuse of power and help people take the first step in protecting their liberty and also ensuring the accountability of officials.”

The i-torney app helps users search for and read laws in easy-to-understand text, explain various legal offenses, check the legality of an arrest, send an alert with GPS coordinates to predetermined contacts, share alert for detained women with the National Commission for Women, and create a timeline of the incident. The app will also allow users to post text, audio, and video blogs recounting interactions with police in order to hold officials accountable.

“The app caters to the need of all classes, age groups and even regions,” the India Institute explains. “The legal database includes laws of all the states in the country and not just the metropolitan cities. Hence any person from any region can make use of the app on any smart phone. I-torney is extremely user friendly, with just a three step registration process and minimum space requirement on the devices, making it effective for all users.”

Although the initial launch of the app is only available in English, a Hindi variant is in active development, to be followed by all other major regional languages spoken in India.

“Even as India is achieving several development milestones in quick succession, one area that has not improved much in decades is our criminal justice system, especially police reforms,” said Baladevan Rangaraju, India Institute founder and director. “After several commissions and committees and a Supreme Court ruling, implementing police reforms has been a major challenge for us. It is reflected in the huge number of custodial assaults and deaths (one every three days), and in the fact that more than two thirds of our jail inmates are undertrials — that is, accused but not yet convicted. i-torney is our humble effort to improve police accountability by empowering the common man with knowledge of his legal rights against attack on his life and liberty, and the facility to seek immediate help when the same are under threat.”

The i-torney app has been made possible in part because of Rangaraju’s winning pitch in Atlas Network’s $25,000 Think Tank Shark Tank competition, generously sponsored by the Rising Tide Foundation, at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2014. During each year’s Think Tank Shark Tank competition Atlas Leadership Academy graduates pitch their most exciting and strategic new project ideas before a panel of esteemed judges for the chance to win the $25,000 prize.