Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 was enacted to constitute Legal Services Authorities for providing free and competent legal services to weaker sections of the society.
- To ensure that opportunities for securing justice were not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
- To organize Lok Adalat to ensure that the operation of the legal system promoted justice on a basis of equal opportunity. “Access to Justice” for all is the motto of the Legal Services Authorities.
Article 39A, added to the constitution by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, forms the basis for the Legal Services Authority Act 1987. According to Article 39A of Indian constitution the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid.
Entitlement under the Act:
Under section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, several sections of people are entitled to free legal aid and they include.
I. A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
II. A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;
III. A woman or a child;
IV. A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
V. A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster;
VI. An industrial workman;
VII. A person in custody;
VIII. A person in receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
The National Legal Service Authority has provided that free legal aid includes the following;
I. Representation by an Advocate in legal proceedings;
II. Payment of process fees, expenses of witnesses and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings in appropriate cases;
III. Preparation of pleadings, memo of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings;
IV. Drafting of legal documents, special leave petition, etc.
V. Supply of certified copies of judgments, orders, notes of evidence and other documents in legal proceeding.
Purpose of NALSA
Public awareness, equal opportunity and deliverable justice are the cornerstones on which the edifice of NALSA is based. It also focuses on speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary.
Composition of NALSA
The Chief Justice of India is patron- in-chief of NALSA while senior most judge of Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman. There is a provision for similar mechanism at state and district level also headed by Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Judges of District courts respectively.
Functioning of NALSA
NALSA lays down policies, principles, guidelines and frames effective and economical schemes for the State Legal Services Authorities to implement the Legal Services Programmes throughout the country.
The functions of NALSA are;
1. To lay down policies and principles for making Legal Services available under the provisions of the Act.
2. To frame the most effective and economical schemes for the purpose of making the legal services available under this act.
3. To utilise the funds at its disposal and make appropriate allocations of funds to the State authorities and District authorities.
(Auhtor is the Director of Shikara Academy)