India which is known to be the second most populated country in the world has the majority of illiterate. As said by Justice Harry Blackmun, “the concept of seeking justice cannot be equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice”. The major part of individuals doesn’t know about the legal system of the nation and furthermore of their protected rights. Even though individuals know about it, they are not in a circumstance to manage the cost of giving their monetary and social backwardness. They are in a defenseless circumstance to be able to afford the service of legal counselors, which has turned into expensive affairs.
The focus point of legal aid is on distributive justice, successful execution of welfare advantages and end of social and basic oppression of poor people. It works as per the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 which goes about as the rule of the rendering of free justice. The prime object of the state ought to be “equivalent justice for all”. In this way, legal aid endeavors to guarantee that the constitutional pledge is satisfied in its letter and soul and equivalent justice is made accessible to the oppressed and weaker sections of the general public.
Legal Aid is a development that envisages that the poor have simple access to courts and other government organizations. It infers that the choices rendered are reasonable and simply assessing the rights and disabilities of parties. The focus point of legal aid is on distributive justice, viable execution of welfare advantages and elimination of social structural discrimination against the poor. It was taking these mandatory provisions of the Constitution of India at the top of the priority list that the Parliament passed The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
RIGHT TO FREE LEGAL AID:
The State shall secure that the task of the legal system advances justice, on the basis of equivalent chance, and shall, specifically, give free legal aid, by appropriate enactment or plans or in some other manner, to guarantee that open doors for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of financial or any other disabilities.
The preamble of the Indian constitution fundamentally means to secure to the general population of India justice – financial and political. His Lordship Justice P.N. Bhagwati appropriately expressed that legal aid means giving a course of action in the general public which makes the machinery of administration of Justice easily available and in reach of the individuals who need to depend on it for the requirement of rights given to them by law. Article 38(1) affirms that the State will advance the welfare of the general population by verifying and ensuring the social order including justice. Article 21 plainly says that each individual has an equal right to life and liberty except according to the procedure.
Case – Hussainara Khatoon vs. State of Bihar: In this case, the court held that the accused has the right to free legal aid at the expense of state if he is not able to afford legal service for himself.
PROVISIONS OF LEGAL AID IN THE CONSTITUTION:
ARTICLE 39A- It is the obligation of the State to see that the legal system advances justice based on equal opportunity for its entire citizen. It should therefore give free legal aid to the individuals who can’t get to justice because of financial and other disabilities.
SECTION 304 OF CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE,1973- If the accused does not have adequate means to draw in a legal advisor, the court must give one to the protection of the accused at the expense for the state.
KHATRI II vs. STATE OF BIHAR (1981)1SCC- The Constitutional obligation to give legal aid emerges from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time and continues to whatever point he is delivered for remand.
LEGAL SERVICE AUTHORITY ACT, 1987- This act was effectuated with the object to provide justice to all. No citizen should be denied justice because of economic or any other disabilities.
NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICE AUTHORITY (NALSA):
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to monitor and evaluate the implementation of legal services accessible under the Act.
The NALSA issues rules for the State Legal Services Authorities to actualize the Legal Aid Programs and plans all through the nation.
Principally, the State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Taluka Legal Services Authorities, Taluka Legal Services Committees, etc. have been asked to discharge the following two main functions regularly:
- To Provide Free Legal Services to the qualified people; and
- To organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
In each State, a State Legal Services Authority and in each High Court, a High Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted. District Legal Services Authorities and Taluka Legal Services Committees have been established in the Districts and a large portion of the Talukas to offer impact to the approaches and headings of the NALSA and to give free lawful administrations to the general population and direct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authorities are led by Hon’ble Chief Justice of the individual Districts and the Taluka Legal Services Committees are led by the Judicial Officers at the Taluka Level.
Preeminent Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted to administer and implement the legal services program to the extent that it relates to the Supreme Court of India.
HOW TO GET FREE LEGAL AID IN INDIA:
Bodies constituted by Legal Services Authorities Act: A person who qualifies the eligibility criteria as in S.12 of the LSA Act may approach the appropriate body constituted under the Act (as mentioned above) to get free legal aid. National Legal Services Authority (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010 consists of various regulations Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, State Legal Services Authorities, High Court Legal Services Committees, District Legal Services Authorities, and Taluk Legal Services Committees in India must abide by.
An application is to be filed by the applicant and shall be preferably presented in the FORM-I present at the end of the Regulations (download by clicking here). Such an application shall be filed along with the summary of the grievances for which the applicant seeks legal aid. The form may be filled in the local language or English. Oral requests may also be entertained similar to an application under FORM-I. The applicant shall attach an affidavit stating that the applicant qualifies the eligibility criteria as specified under Section 12 of the LSA Act. Application forms are additionally present at all the said bodies free of expense. After receipt of the application, the board of trustees set up by the foundation where such application has been recorded will investigate the application to set up whether the candidate is qualified for free legal aid and shall revert within eight weeks from the date of receipt of such application.
Pro Bono Cases: Corporate social duty has picked up prevalence in the Indian culture and law offices, regardless of whether top-level or not and advocates have additionally stepped up to contribute towards the general public. Pro Bono cases are those cases, the costs incurred in which are ‘on the house’ or nominal. Some of the associations/firms having dynamic free office are Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co.(in relationship with Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation), Luthra and Luthra, Human Rights Law Network, and so forth.
Legal Aid Clinics: All District Legal Services Authorities are required to establish legal aid clinics in villages or clusters of villages depending upon the size of the village to provide legal aid to individuals, particularly where there is land, social and different boundaries to access to the legal services institutions. However, it is subjected to the financial resource accessible to the districts.
Legal Services Clinics in Law Universities/Colleges: Usually, every law university/college sets up, as a part of legal education, by Section 4(k) of the LSA Act, legal services clinic to give a lawful guide to the neighborhood individuals free of expense. Such legal aid clinics might be drawn closer to get free legal advice.
Non-Governmental Organizations: Various NGOs give free lawful counsel to individuals concerning the field they work in and help them in getting legal aid, either their own or those gave by the state/law firms/lawyers, etc.
Online Forums: Different online forums are giving free legal advice to individuals and helping them get associated with law firms’ pro bono department.
Some of the similar kinds of websites are https://www.i-probono.com/, https://lawfarm.in/, etc.
Legal aid to the poor is fundamental for the protection of guideline of law which is important for the presence of the orderly society. It infers giving free legal services to poor people and needy who can’t manage the cost of the services of a legal advisor for the proceedings of a case in any court, council or before an expert. The focus point of Legal Aid is on distributive justice, effective implementation of welfare benefits and disposal of social and basic oppression of poor people. It works as per the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 which goes about as the rule of the rendering of free equity. Legal aid isn’t a charity or bounty, yet it is an obligation of the state and right of the public. It is the absence of legal awareness which leads to exploitation and deprivation of rights and benefits of the poor people.