The genesis of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) can be traced back to the late 1970s when a group of young people started development work amongst tribal hill communities in the areas of Jaunsar-Bawar a predominantly tribal belt of Dehradun district. The Kendra has evolved after years of struggle against atrocities meted out to underprivileged and marginalized communities. Systemic inequities and injustices deprived these communities of their fundamental human rights the main thrust being empowerment and emancipation of bonded labour (also called slavery), with special focus on women. This was crucial in their effort for restoration of rights of these marginalised communities.

The organization has used law as a tool for promotion of ‘Rule of Law’ as it has fought for communities as well as individuals in the courts of law. Thus, paving the way for enactment of new laws. RLEK initiatives have led to the promulgation of: Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976; Environment Protection Act, 1986; and Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

Legal Status

After two decades of work without any external support, RLEK was formally registered under the Registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860as a Non-Profit Organisation in 1989 (Registration number 1044/ 1988 – 89) Notified by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India under Section 35AC of Income Tax Act which allows donors 100% income tax deduction on their contributions.
Registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 (Registration no. No. 347900013) State Government of Uttarakhand also recognizes RLEK as a charitable organisation. RLEK is also registered under section 12A of Income Tax Act and also under section 80G of Income Tax Act

The United Nations has granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations on Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) for having competence in empowering indigenous groups, marginalized population, women and children in claiming their entitlements

As a NGO, RLEK has played a major role in pushing for sustainable development at the national and international level. The main drivers have been campaigning groups, litigation and policy level awareness for generations to build pressure on government for pro people reforms. This has lead to success of the initiatives ranging from protecting the fragile eco-system of Doon valley, abolition of bonded labour (form of slavery) system in Jaunsar-Bawar area of Dehradun and securing the rights (right to education, right to vote and livelihood rights) of marginalized communities.RLEK builds on the strength and ability of even marginalised people to learn and to grow, and their ability to solve problems that affect their lives. Education (including knowledge of laws); legal aid; organisational, technical and other skills – are seen as essential to give people the “power of knowledge” needed to address the root causes of poverty, deprivation, inequality and exploitation.

RLEK Works at all the three levels – micro, meso and macro.


  • To work on economic and social problems of the poor and unprivileged, particularly women, by organizing them into community based groups.
  • To empower women and build capacities by providing information and knowledge regarding local self-governance.
  • To mobilise women through training, networking and by providing institutional support, to contest elections and bring about gender equity in local self-governance.
  • To provide education to tribal, nomads and other marginalised sections through formal and innovative non–formal programmes.
  • To work for conservation, environmental enrichment, and the spreading of awareness of environmental issues.
  • To involve participation of forest dependent communities in conservation and sustainable forest management while safeguarding traditional rights
  • To sensitise, raise the level of awareness of legal rights in the poor, and create a cadre of para-legal workers in marginalised communities.
  • RLEK is part of networks Transparency International UK, Global Transparency International movement & Credibility Alliance consortium of Voluntary Organizations.
  • To establish a culture of humanism through promotion of social justice and to secure entitlements for deprived sections of society through public interest litigation and advocacy.

RLEK is part of networks Transparency International UK, Global Transparency International movement & Credibility Alliance consortium of Voluntary Organizations.


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