Lack of legal education within the Tibetan Diaspora is one of the key impediments in empowering the Tibetans in exile. Tibetan Legal Association’s (to be referred as TLA henceforth) recent legal surveys in few Tibetan settlements and educational centers in India testified to the fact that the level of understanding of Tibetans, even on rudimentary legal processes of the host country (India), is painfully low. This serious lack of legal education not only contributes to various social, economic and political problems for Tibetan refugees in India but also impede them in effectively contributing to the nascent exile Tibetan democracy. The case is not so different with Tibetans in Tibet under Chinese rule. A focus-group discussion conducted by TLA with some new-arrivals from Tibet indicated that their understanding on rule of law is minimal, yet they showed strong interest on legal education. The same discussion also revealed that many of them are ill-informed about democracy and its processes. To address these issues, TLA has conducted series of activities since its inception to spread legal awareness. The impacts of these activities have encouraged TLA to further increase and intensify our campaign to benefit as many Tibetans as possible, both in and outside Tibet.
The importance of forming an association of Tibetan legal practitioners was promulgated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2009. After number of deliberations, Tibetan Legal Association, (TLA) a non-governmental organization was formally formed with forty–one participants of Tibetan lawyers, law graduates and law students during the conference of the Tibetan Legal Fraternity organized by Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission on 28 June 2013, Dharamsala. TLA got it legally registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960 in July 23rd 2014 and subject to renewal annually. Owing to various other challenges TLA delayed in opening its door till March 1st 2016 in Dharamsala and currently TLA has 50 members both from India and abroad, membership is limited only to a Tibetan who is either law graduates or law students.
The office of TLA was established on 1st March 2016 in Dharamsala. The overall goals/objectives of TLA as formulated in the Memorandum for Registration of Society are as follow:
A. To provide legal aid on pro-bono basis to Tibetans-in-exile, and endeavor to provide legal services/lawyers to underprivileged Indians requiring legal protection. Some of the specific legal services that TLA provides are as below:
– Applying for certificate of birth, marriage, divorce and so on.
– Matters relating to passport and citizenship.
– Registration of society, shops and other commercial establishment.
– Issues relating to legal status in India and fight deportation cases.
– Help and represent victims to file case /complaints in Police and Court of laws
B. To provide legal advice and workshops from time to time to members of the association, schools, monasteries, non-governmental organizations, civil servants of the Central Tibetan Administration, general public, etc., thereby enhancing the knowledge on law and enabling individuals and the community to present/argue their rights in accordance with legal procedures.
C. To render legal service & advice to the Central Tibetan Administration as and when referred.
D. Research on domestic and international law and translating important and relevant legal papers and Acts in Tibetan language.
E. To conduct a research on legal system of China and creating awareness amongst the Tibetan people both in exile and inside Tibet in order to espouse the cause of Tibet through law.
These goals shall result in long-term improvement in the lives of Tibetans in and outside of Tibet in following ways:
Increased legal competencies of Tibetans-in-Exile and Tibet, may result in better life and stronger economy reducing the burden on local Welfare Office in particular and CTA in general.
– Enhanced organizational capacity of Tibetan NGOs through legal sensitization programs.
– Improved the welfare of the most vulnerable Tibetans by providing free and easy access to the legal services and awareness trainings.
With these objectives behind TLA is aspired to execute the above mentioned goals to educate and empower the community, the TLA have had till now visited major monasteries and schools to provide legal awareness and in the agenda to visit Tibetan settlements to do the same.
All of TLA’s office bearers are qualified and trained in their field of profession. It comprises professional and experienced advocates with legal expertise and thus is fully capable of providing legal guidance and awareness.
LOBSANG DAKPA(PRESIDENT / STANDING LAWYER)
Mr Lobsang Dakpa is the President of TLA and a member of Tibetan Parliament with an LLM degree in corporate law from Christ University, Bangalore. He studied in TCV Suja school.He was school Captain in TCV Suja and Gopalpur and the Best Boy of the School. He got his LL.B Degree from JSS Law College, Mysore in the year 2013. Soon after completion of his LL.M, he worked as the Chief Editor, Chinese section of 9 star Multi National Company, based in Bangalore. He was also a chief Instructor of Swis Re Company.(2014-2015) Thereafter he worked as Senior News Reporter, in Chinese Language at Voice of Tibet, Dharamsala from April 2015- 31 March 2016. he was elected as the Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile with Majority votes in 2016. Currently, he is the President of TLA. He is very good in English, Tibetan and Chinese langauge.
KUNSANG TOPDEN (FORMER ASSOCIATE LAWYER)
He was a standing /retained lawyer and a board member of Tibetan Legal Association. He is a Bar certified as an Advocate by the Bar Council of Delhi. He has experience in both Indian Courts as well as in Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission. He has a law degree from MS Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore and a Diploma in ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ from Amity Law School Noida. He was born and brought up in Chauntra, with his schooling from Central School for Tibetan Paonta Sahib in the year 2000.
Soon after his Law College, he got employed with international Law firm Innodate Isogen Pvt. Ltd. Noida, India which caters to American law firm with their wide range of Legal processing work, with both Federal and State matters as a legal citator and quality analyst.( Oct 2008-2009). Thereafter, he worked at the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, CTA, Dharamsala, India as a Research and Legal officer. While at TSJC, he researched on various aspects of law, assisted in case proceedings before TSJC as well in civil matters before the Indian courts. He undertook various legal awareness programe in various North-East Tibetan Refugees settlers in India, along with Chief Justice Commissioner. While at TSJC, he was sent for an internship under Law Office of Mr. J. M Mukhi, Barrister and Senior Advocate Supreme Court of India, New Delhi . During internship period, he assisted him on various Arbitrational cum Civil suits matters before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Courts.(Oct 2011-March 2012)
Between, Dec 2012- February 2016, He started active litigation work before Sub-Divisional and District Courts in Himachal Pradesh, India under Senior Advocate Mr. B.R Rathore at Sub Division, Session Court and District Courts in Mandi, District of Himachal Pradesh. He was also a legal consultant for the Mangalam Charitable Trust, Chauntra, HP India, a Charitable Trust under the Chairmanship of 10th Bo-Gangkar Rinpoche, who is a keen animal lover himself. ( May 2014- February 16 ) he was a Board member of TLA in a position of Secretary. Due to family planing, He has resigned in March 2019.
NAMGYAL TSEKEY (FORMER SENIOR LAWYER)
Ms. Namgyal Tsekey was standing /retained lawyer and a member of the Board of TLA. She is a Bar certified as an Advocate by the Bar Council of Delhi. She has rich experience in both Indian Courts as well as in Tibetan Justice Commissions. Born in Chowkur, Bylakuppe, She had her schooling from the Central Tibetan School for Tibetans at Bylakuppe in 1995 with 1st Rank in Class XII. She had her basic law degree from J.S. S law College at Mysore with 8th Rank in her B.A.L Degree & Masters of Law (LL. M ) from university of Mysore in International law with Business and Trade law(2002). She served at the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) at Dharamsala from 28th August 2002 to 15 July 2006 in legal research and translation section. Also, appointed as Jury during a trial.
During her tenure at TSJC, She was sent by TSJC for an internship under Law Office of Mr. J. M Mukhi, Barrister and Senior Advocate Supreme Court of India, Legal Advisor to CTA, Delhi (Oct 2005- April 2006).
In 2006, she got US Scholarship called the Tibetan Scholarship Program and went to study International law with human Rights at American University, at Washington DC, where she successfully earned another LL.M .On her return to India in 2008, She was appointed as Legal Counsel/legal adviser to TSJC , Dharamsala, whereby she handled and assisted in cases before High Court of HP. Thereafter. she got promoted and got appointed as the Tibetan Local Justice Commissioner in Bylakuppe & Dikiling( Southern and Northern Region) from November of 2010- December of 2015 for the total period of five year. She was the first lady Justice Commissioner in the Tibetan Community . She was a Senior counsel and also a Board Member of TLA, in capacity of a Treasurer. She has resigned for further studies in Feb,2018.
DICKYI PELDON( LEGAL STAFF )
Ms. Dickyi Peldon came from Tibet in the year 2002. She is a lawyer , with a Law degree from JSS Law College, Mysore in 2016. She is one of the best law students having bagged a Second rank in the law College in the BA. LL.B .
She completed her primary education from Tibetan Children’s Village School Gopalpur, later selected to TCV Selaqui for her secondary education in the year 2004 which recruits only the exemplary students from amongst the TCV Schools. She then completed her senior secondary education from T CV Gopalpur. She worked as an intern under Advocate Mr. S.V . Giri Kumar, Office of Advocate General, High Court of Bangalore in 2015.
she was a legal staff and a Board member of TLA in capacity of PRO. in 2017, She resigned for family reunion in United States.
YAMA CHOEZOM ( PRO- BONO LAWYER )
Miss Yama Choezom left Tibet in the year 2002 in pursuit of an education in India.
She is a lawyer , with a Law degree from JSS Law College, Mysore in 2016. She completed her primary education from Tibetan Children’s Village School Suja in 2009. She then completed her senior secondary education from TCV Gopalpur in 2011. Miss. Yama had taken leadership roles at very young age by being school prefect . She also was an International student’s coordinator representing Tibetans in JSS Law College.
Her writings have been published in various forums in Tibetan Journals in exile community. She shows great passion toward Human Rights and gender issue. She have participated in workshop and a panel discussion on Tibet Women Empowerment policy and conference by Tibet TV, CTA.
She worked as an intern under Advocate Mr. S.V . Giri Kumar Office of Advocate General, High Court of Bangalore for a month in 2015.
During her college days, She have served in various pro bono services such as Volunteering at Lha Charitable Trust and teaching young monks at Gaden Monastery.
She volunteers at TLA as a pro bono lawyer . Her duties at TLA consist of administration, assisting with legal cases, and volunteering in the awareness programs of the TLA . she left office for further Studies in Australia.