Justice means to treat everyone equally and legal aid is the function of justice. Legal aid is a setup basically to provide the effective mechanism for justice To people who are unaware, poor, vulnerable, underprivileged and who victims of exploitation . This is to ensure that the weakest of the weak gets access to justice . As the Constitution mentions equal rights to all the motive of legal aid is to ensure that no one is deprived of justice and no one is deprived from right to move to court.
PN Bhagwati in a case said that if the legal aid is not provided to the accused then it is eventually violation of article 21 of a constitution and this is the prime duty of every state to provide legal aid to its citizens.
Original of legal aid started from universal declaration of Human rights which says Everyone has a right to get remedy for violation of their fundamental rights that are granted by constitution or law
Then came International covenant of civil and political rights says the person has a right to legal assistance and if the person did not get the legal assistance it is for the state to provide him with the same.
Soon the law commission of India decided for the development of legal aid in India, Then an expert committee under chairmanship of PN Bhagwati chief Justice was made to see and implement the legal aid program throughout the country.
Order XXXIII of civil procedure code 1908 enable the people who are poor to pay court fees to institute suits by exempting them from paying the court fee.
In Sukh Dass v. Union territory of Arunachal Pradesh It was said by court that the free legal aid is even available to the accused if he has not requested for it.
Then came Legal services authorities act 1987 under this National level state-level, district level, taluk level, Supreme Court level legal services authorities were formed for active legal services that made ensure that justice is denied to no one. “Access to Justice” for all is the motto of the Legal Services Authorities.In every State a State Legal Services Authority is constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the Central Authority (NALSA) and to give legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.
Persons who are entitled legal services under this act are :-
- To a member of Scheduled Tribe or Scheduled Cast
- To a victim of trafficking in human beings or beggars
- To women and children
- To a person with disability
- To a person being victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought , earthquake or industrial disaster.
- To a person in custody , including custody in protective homes like juvenile home etc.
- To a person whose annual income is less than 9 thousand rupees as prescribed by State Government and 12 thousand rupees as prescribed by Central Government.
Lok Adalat is one of the Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in India, it is a forum where cases pending or at pre litigation stage in a court of law are settled. They have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The number of cases that require jurisdiction is increasing at an alarming rate So need of Lok Adalat generated with time. Even if the case is filed in court, the expenses are refunded to the party when the case is solved by Lok Adalat .