Agami Prize

Let's celebrate justice innovation!

By discovering and celebrating ideas that are

thinking differently about how laws and policies are madeimproving the quality and access to legal services making legal compliance simple and frictionlessmaking legal research radically easyleveraging data and technology for more efficient legal servicesreimagining legal educationmaking legal knowledge easily available at people's finger tipsbridging the gap between citizens and law and justice

Nominations are closed!

The shortlist will be announced by end of August, 2022.

Watch the highlights from the last edition – Agami Prize 2020

Prize Categories

Choose the category that’s relevant to your idea

Shamnad Basheer Prize

The Shamnad Basheer Prize will be awarded to two mature initiatives that are innovatively transforming our systems of law and justice. These initiatives have proven that their ideas can work, and are now growing  and consolidating their impact.

Idea Prize

The Idea Prize will be awarded to two early-stage initiatives that could innovatively transform our systems of law and justice. These initiatives are testing and/or building proof of concept for their ideas. The Idea Prize is supported by the Jayasimha Foundation in memory of Late Justice R Jayasimha Babu.

Both categories are open to different types of initiatives – for-profits, not-for-profit, unregistered entities, hybrids, as well as initiatives inside existing organizations. Do note that initiatives emerging from within the State institutions, be it the Judiciary, Legislature, or Executive are not eligible for the Prize.

Partners

What 'is' the Prize?

The Prize offers cash prizes of upto 10 lakhs for winners. But, the Prize isn’t about just winning. Shortlisted initiatives from 2018 and 2020 continue to engage with Agami to grow their network, build new collaborations and grow the field of innovation in law and justice.

10 Lakh Prize

Unrestricted Cash Prize to each of the two winners of the Shamnad Basheer Prize

5 Lakh Prize

Unrestricted Cash Prize to each of the two winners of the Idea Prize

Visibility

Visibility for the ideas shortlisted for the Agami Prize and the people behind the ideas

Meghana Srinivas, Founder, TrustIn on her experience of Agami Prize 2020

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Watch what she had to say

Apar Gupta, Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation on his experience of Agami Prize 2020

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Watch what he had to say

Is my nomination eligible?

Here’s the eligibility criteria

Initiatives must meet the following general eligibility criteria to be nominated (or for self-nomination). Initiatives that do not meet the below-mentioned criteria may be excluded from the first evaluation

Site of Change

The core idea should see the systems of law and justice as a site of change in itself and advance our systems of law and justice.

Based in India

Initiatives must be based in India, and have India as an important market and / or target area.

Dedicated Team

Have a dedicated team, i.e., one or all of the founding team members are working on the initiative full-time.

EXCEPTION: In case of the Agami Idea Prize, eligibility is satisfied if at least one of the founders commits to work on the initiative full-time within 3-6 months of the nomination.

At an Inflection Point

The initiative must be at an inflection point in its life cycle where it is poised for significant growth and impact.

EXCEPTION: Early stage initiatives being considered under the Agami Idea Prize are eligible to apply even if they are not poised for significant growth and impact.

And how do eligible nominations win?

Here’s the evaluation criteria

Participating initiatives that meet the eligibility criteria will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria

Transformative Innovation

Is the idea innovatively transforming our systems of law and justice?

We are looking for ideas that are built upon unique insights into problems facing our justice system. Ideas that are creating new patterns and new possibilities for justice by challenging existing roles, information flows, processes, relationships or structures. They may or may not be technology focused.

Entrepreneurial Leadership

Is there entrepreneurial leadership behind the idea?

We are looking for ideas that are backed by entrepreneurial leaders who are deeply committed to pursuing the idea. Leaders who can formulate practical pathways and take people along with them. Leaders who will adopt the ideal organizing model (for-profit, not-for-profit, network or movement based) needed to realise the full potential of the idea.

Activating Agency

Does the idea activate agency / advance justicemaking?

We are looking for ideas that invite and create roles for others to become ‘players’ in making justice and not receive services. Ideas that activate agency, especially of those traditionally denied of it. Ideas that create public goods or create new markets for other changemakers to build upon. Ideas that co-opt other leaders, to build a team of teams who are invested in growing the idea.

Past Winners

The many shapes & forms of justice innovation

Click the profiles below to discover the idea

Impulse Model Press Lab

Categories: Winner, Winner 2018

Idea Prize Winner, 2018

The Problem

Data released in 2016 by the National Crime Records Bureau in India shows an increase of 18% in the number of cases of human trafficking between 2015 and 2016.  In this context, the proliferation of fake news, news reports where photographs and names of survivors are displayed, and lack of gender sensitivity in reporting, have a further adverse impact on the cause and survivors. Irresponsible use of social media also perpetuates human trafficking.

Idea: 

Impulse NGO Network’s (INGON) groundwork on human trafficking issues helped them see that dealing with the press is critical for resolving cases. Their work involved training approximately 100 journalists and they have successfully used the press to expose cases. 

Building on this, Hasina Kharbhih, the founder and Chairperson of INGON, along with Karma Paljor they launched the ‘Impulse Model Press Lab’ to aid sensitive reporting on cross-border human trafficking. Their fellowship programme for media houses across India, Nepal and Myanmar, and Bangladesh is aimed at improving the quality of reporting of cases of human trafficking, inculcating gender sensitivity and providing technical information to media houses. This programme will not only provide information about human trafficking, but also cover legal sensitisation of the press, and building journalist participation in the justice delivery system. 

Over the years, The Press Lab intends to create a cohort of journalists who can specialise in reporting on human trafficking. Such accurate and sensitive reporting of human trafficking will encourage victims to come forward with their cases without any fear of sensationalization. It will also create mass awareness on the issue and contribute to policy engagement on human trafficking using media reports. The INGON model will strengthen with the media on board.

Idea Prize Winner, 2018...

Civis

Categories: Winner, Winner 2018

Idea Prize Winner, 2018

The Problem

As of 2018, India’s ranking on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index has slipped by 10 points in the span of one year – now ranking at 42 as a ‘flawed democracy’. An active and informed citizenry is imperative to get the most out of a democracy. However in India, the world’s largest democracy, there is little civic participation in a core process of democracy: law making.

Laws, policies, and schemes are often made within the four walls of government offices, with little feedback from citizens. This is compounded by a lack of legal awareness and the resultant apathy prevents people from making use of the frameworks that exist for participation and accountability. The lack of understanding and dialogue with a pivotal institution like the Government, leads to a loss of trust that adversely impacts democracy.

Idea:

Civis was founded by Antaraa Vasudev, who has been passionate about citizen’s engagement since an early age. From writing letters to the President of India at age nine about animal welfare to blog posts about the power of a citizen’s voice at age 16, she has finally found a medium through which she can enable citizen’s engagement at scale. 

Civis has a two-fold approach to enable citizen participation in the process of law making. First, Civis helps citizens understand these laws /  policies and their impact on them. Second, Civis will enable the government to understand citizen’s priorities and gather feedback on policy decisions in real time.

Citizens will be shown a summary of new legislation / policies / schemes on their web-based app – free of legal jargon and ideological bias. This will help them understand the new laws / policies proposed and share their feedback, providing real time inputs. Through dashboards, citizens can view their legislator’s voting patterns and actions and compare it to their own needs, building accountability. All this will be done through a mobile application and IVR-based calling mechanism where connectivity and literacy are a challenge. Civis will reach out to citizens through extensive outreach programs, such as radio shows, media, etc. They are also currently working on building citizen traffic to their platform. 

Civis will present evidence for citizen-centric policy-making through detailed analytics. The aim is to empower bipartisan action on crucial issues that impact the quality of our democracy, such as transparency in political finance. With a focus on opportunity for development and control of shared resources, the voice of underserved communities will carry equal weight. The current strategy is to focus on urban issues, and move towards the rural issues in time. The goal is to initially leverage citizen participation at municipalities before moving on to state / national laws. In the longer term, Civis plans to expand its reach to rural areas. 

Idea Prize Winner, 2018...

Pulkit Anand, Provakil

Provakil

Categories: Winner, Winner 2018

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner, 2018

The Problem

The legal sector, just like the health sector, faces a data problem. The primary data – laws, regulations, cases, court data and forms – is scattered across different places and structured in different ways. This creates a huge problem when one is seeking to use this data in any way, whether it is making accessible case data for lawyers and citizens, court data for lawyers, case planning data for judges and courts, judicial performance data for the justice system, or forms and tools for citizens. As a result our systems of law and justice do not function with as much efficiency, transparency, accountability, and intelligence as they could. 

Idea:

Provakil is bringing the latest thinking in data sciences and management to build a data-driven enterprise that can then address different use-cases through separate apps. Its founders have dealt with challenges in other sectors, notably health, where data needs to be dependably aggregated from different sources, reconciled, and then directed to specific user needs. While they are currently creating solutions focused on practicing lawyers and on law firms and legal departments they have also executed projects to demonstrate how court data can be utilised to make courts more efficient. 

Their significant innovation is in focusing on the data core itself, i.e., the processes and structures to source and manage data in such a way that it is highly usable in different situations. This is noticeably different from players who are focusing on specific solutions such as a court listing app for litigating lawyers, or case databases for research, but not building a underlying data architecture that is robust and versatile enough to create integrated solutions that address multiple needs of clients such as a solution that can show court listings, enable search and analysis of cases, show data related to specific judges and courts, and provide practice management tools. 

In a world of specialists, Provakil understands that data is a specialisation by itself that will enable a multitude of other specialist services. With a strong tech, data, and legal background in the founding team makes them a strong contender for the organisation that delivers data-driven solutions to the industry and systems. 

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner,...

Sushant Sinha, Indian Kanoon

IndianKanoon

Categories: Winner, Winner 2018

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner, 2018

The Problem

In the age of the information economy, there are several barriers for citizens and members from the legal fraternity in accessing statutory and case laws. While government departments and courts publish laws and judgments on their respective websites, they are not user-friendly. Their interfaces replicate the library world by requiring searching for judgments by petitioner, respondent, case number. While lawyers are often accustomed to using these interfaces and terms, it acts as a huge barrier to common people. ‘Captchas’, further restrict accessibility to visually impaired citizens. 

As a result, only extremely savvy citizens or legal professionals/ universities that have access to proprietary and expensive services like SCC Online and Manupatra are able to access reliable reproductions of statutory and case laws. 

Idea: 

Launched in 2008,  IndianKanoon is a free ‘search engine’ for Indian law. It provides access to all publicly available judgments from the Supreme Court of India, 24 High Courts, 2 District Courts, 20 Tribunals, and Cause List data from 150+ district courts and 11 High Courts. It also has Constituent Assembly Debates, Law Commission Reports, and Lok Sabha Debates. Most of this data is updated everyday on the website. 

The key relevance of the platform is its simplicity and relevance to the user. A simple and effective search engine allows users to use terms familiar to them for search and find results. It also interlinks case laws and judgments.

Sushant Sinha, the founder of IndianKanoon, began developing the platform fuelled by his curiosity about publicly available law data. He began the initiative while still finishing his doctorate degree in Computer Science at the University of Michigan. 

IndianKanoon is acting as a disruptive force to proprietary models of information and data in the legal industry. It runs its servers mostly on free and open source software and has contributed much to the development of the software. The growth of the website has been organic, primarily through word of mouth channels.

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner,...

Amit Mishra, Phoenix Systems

Phoenix

Categories: Winner, Winner 2020

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner, 2020

The Problem: 

Indian prisons are in the dark ages. The condition of the prison depends massively on the leadership at the prison and regional level given that the infrastructure is usually wanting and underfunded. Systems in the prison such as those supporting legal processes that prisoners participate in, the welfare of the prisoners, payment transactions between prisoners and their families, and the overall upkeep and tracking of the prisons, are mostly broken. This has resulted in the growth of a number of exploitative practices and rent seeking beneficiaries that result in the poor performance of the system as a whole and the suffering of all the stakeholders concerned, not just the prisoners but also the prison staff. The present technology solutions that are available, mostly created by the NIC, are not implemented at the prison level. Some level of basic data entry happens to ensure that rules are complied with but the systems do not enhance the quality of operations of the prison or improve the well-being of the stakeholders. This issue is not called out often enough because better possibilities have not been adequately experienced.

Idea: 

The source of the innovation of Phoenix comes from the fact that it was born out of a collaboration between an ex-prisoner and a prison official. The prison official could clearly see the challenges of running the prison the way it was being run. The prisoner knew exactly the pain points from the perspective of the prisoners. This makes for a potent combination where the founding team has the empathy, the insights and the technical ability to design solutions challenging existing norms and practices. 

It is highly unusual for such an empathetic design to come into government systems, much less find the backing of prison authorities in seeking its adoption. Retaining synchronicity with the Jail Manual of the state whilst driving automation of operations and workflow through digitization is a thread that is held by Phoenix. Some areas where they have innovated considerably are in (i) developing a cashless canteen (ii) prisoner interview system (iii) eCustody system (iv) court production management system and (v) hospital management system

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner,...

Nikita Sonavane, CPAP

CPAP

Categories: Winner, Winner 2020

Idea Prize Winner, 2020

The Problem:

The police are gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. They are the first point of encounter for most citizens with the criminal justice system, and their actions play a key role in determining who gets justice and who gets harassed, investigated or arrested.  Unfortunately today, the police force reflects the same class, caste and other biases that society holds, rather than the rule of law. As a result, certain marginalised communities such as denotified tribes, Dalits and Muslims are believed to be genetically or culturally criminal and are subject to intrusive surveillance and other forms of harassment by the police. Seemingly neutral laws are used against specific communities. Besides cases of theft, these communities disproportionately face incarceration under low-level offences. For instance, Madhya Pradesh has the highest rate of cases under gambling and excise laws. The lack of discourse, documentation or any check around these issues in India further adds to this problem. 

Idea: 

CPAP was founded by Nikita Sonavane. A practitioner of law and a Dalit feminist,she  witnessed first hand the bias of the criminal justice system and how seemingly neutral laws target different marginalized communities in practice. Believing that the voices of community members like her should be at the center of the change process, she founded CPAP. 

CPAP enables marginalized communities to anchor and drive the process of holding everyday policing processes accountable. For the first time, members of marginalized communities will have a central role to play in undertaking data-driven research and strategic litigation to increase cost on the system and create feedback loops. 

For example, looking at 9 week data on 32,000 arrests made during COVID, their early findings show that Muslims faced the brunt of these arrests. CPAP intends to source sufficient data to build a mainstream discourse that shows that specific communities are targeted. In the longer term, they foresee the need to challenge the constitutionality of provisions under specific legislations that are invoked in such arrests. 

The CPAP team believes that it is central to push a culture of social justice lawyering backed by research at the trial court level. At the appellate court level, they intend to leverage strategic litigation (particularly in the pre-bail stage), community mobilisation and media as a mechanism to increase costs on the system and act as a check on excesses by the system against specific communities. Representing communities and working closely with them gives CPAP an insight into formal and informal practices of policing.

Idea Prize Winner, 2020...

Zenith

Categories: Winner, Winner 2020

Idea Prize Winner, 2020

The Problem: 

Marginalized communities everywhere are not able to use the law and justice system to access their entitlements, protect themselves from exploitation and exercise their rights. The reasons for this are: the lack of legal literacy, effective community leadership and self-organization. As communities get further distanced from systems of law and justice, they become victims of it. Our legal aid system is completely broken – passive and inaccessible. Law schools everywhere have legal clinics and aid cells that could play an instrumental role in developing legal changemaking capacities in communities. But their present model of offering legal services, one case to another, serves neither the communities nor the students in the long term. The actual disempowerment of both the communities and future lawyers feeds into a culture of helplessness. 

Idea:

 Founded by Abhay Jain and Swapnil Shukla, Zenith has understood the problem of passivity and helplessness and conceived of a solution that is scalable to every community in the country. By framing the laws and legal mechanisms as tools for empowerment, developing legal changemaking capacities within communities to use those tools, and, finally, leveraging legal aid clinics in law schools everywhere to be vehicles to develop the aforementioned capacities, Zenith sees a way to help every community change its relationship with the justice system and within society as a whole.

Building on these three pillars of legal empowerment, community organization and justice leadership, and law student leadership, Zenith developed a unique six-step model to transform communities into advocates for their rights and entitlements. 

The process engages the law students from legal aid cells as volunteers who can run the different steps and, in the process, develop lasting changemaking capacities themselves. The perspective and leadership developed within the community transcends a specific issue and becomes a playbook they can use time and again to ensure their own betterment.  

Finally, Zenith is also highly strategic in not approaching their work as a zero-sum game by alienating other stakeholders, particularly the government. They do not position their campaigns or initiatives as anti the incumbents. In fact, in many cases they’ve collaborated with the government representatives whilst maintaining an arms-length and a line of resistance that comes across as a matter of integrity and humanity rather than aggression or no-holds barred activism. This clever and highly-nuanced approach enables them to enter and hold delicate spaces where emotions could spiral out of control.

Idea Prize Winner, 2020...

Santosh Poonia, Aajeevika Bureau

Aajeevika Bureau

Categories: Winner, Winner 2020

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner, 2020

The Problem: 

Currently, there are over 140-150 million people internally migrating in India. Around 93% of India’s workforce is constituted of informal and migrant workers. They are overworked and underpaid, often susceptible to bondage, child labour, sexual harassment, physical abuse, and not paid wages and entitlements. Almost 70% of informal workers suffer a significant dispute in a year, losing more than one month’s wages each year. They are unable to access formal dispute resolution platforms through the police or labour courts due to lack of information, time, resources and the nature of work itself. Legal institutions are incapacitated in processing wage disuptes that are informal and undocumented in nature. COVID has also amplified the need and urgency for support for migrant workers. 

Idea:

The LEAD Cell demonstrates, through innovative strategies, that the challenges faced by formal systems in extending legal protection to the informal and migrant workforce can be overcome.

For starters, through their strong network of paralegals they provide pre-migration counseling to workers at pre-identified ‘source’ centers of migration in Rajasthan. The counseling includes information about their rights and about principal employers. This promotes awareness on rights and entitlements and good work practices among workers. It also equips workers to better negotiate their wages from employers. More importantly, it creates a sense of brotherhood and communitarianism among workers, independent of the industry or sector that they are absorbed in. Legal literacy is conducted in a simple FAQ format and is simplified through videos as well. 

Additionally, they provide an attendance diary to these workers in which the workers can make a note of time spent on work, overtime, advance paid, and such other details. This attendance diary serves as evidence for workers during disputes because they are often left to challenge these disputes with no documentation. They have also launched a labour helpline number for workers to reach out to. They have conducted extensive outreach about the labour helpline number. The helpline is now funded by the State of Rajasthan; and is run in collaboration with them. 

A LEAD Cell leverages mediation as an effective tool to settle disputes through a unique and effective tool suited to informal work conflicts. Employers tend to participate in these mediation processes as the burden of proof in formal systems is on them and they rarely maintain proper documentation. Where needed, the LEAD Cell activates formal mechanisms such as court, police, human right authorities, etc.

Shamnad Basheer Prize Winner,...

Can non-lawyers be nominated?

And other frequently asked questions

Got a question?
No problem.

In case we’ve not answered your questions in the FAQ or other parts of this page, feel free to reach out to us with your queries.

Questions Regarding Eligibility

Are non-lawyers or non-legal professionals eligible?

Yes, anyone with an idea that serves justice, is eligible for the prize. Do note that initiatives emerging from within State institutions, be it the Judiciary, Legislature, or Executive are not eligible for the Prize.

Can I be nominated again if I applied in 2018 or 2020?

If you are not a previous winner of the Agami Prize you may nominate yourself, even if you’ve applied before.

What is an Initiative for the purposes of the Agami Prize?

The term ‘Initiative’ includes an independent organization, or an initiative inside an existing organization, or even a coherent project without a legal entity. Where a legal entity is involved it can be either a for-profit, not-for-profit, or hybrid entity. Do note that initiatives emerging from within the State institutions, be it the Judiciary, Legislature, or Executive are not eligible for the Prize.

What do you mean by the term ‘Based in India’?

The term ‘Based in India’ means having a legal entity in India or having the primary operations, whether through an entity or not, in India.

What do you mean by “inflection point in its lifecycle”?

The term “inflection point in its lifecycle” means the initiative  is at a critical turning point in its journey. There are certain factors at play (partnerships, critical mass of users, environmental conditions, strategy shift) because of which it is at a precipice of significant growth and impact.

Regarding the Process

Can I nominate myself?

Yes, you may nominate yourself.

Can I nominate more than one initiative?

Yes, there is no limit on the number of nominations per nominator.

When will I know if my nomination has been shortlisted?

Shortlisted nominees will be announced by September 2022.

What is the timeline for the Agami Prize?

Shortlisted nominees will be announced by September 2022. Finalists will be announced by October 2022. And winners will be announced in December 2022 at the Agami Summit.

Contact Us

prize@agami.in

NOW WE MAKE JUSTICE·

NOW WE MAKE JUSTICE·

NOW WE MAKE JUSTICE·

NOW WE MAKE JUSTICE·

NOW WE MAKE JUSTICE·