The National Legal Services Authority of India was established by the Legal Services Authority Act of 1987. The Act was enacted by the Parliament of India in the year 1987, which came into force on 9th November 1995.
National Legal Services Authority: Background
In Hussaianara Khatoon vs. the State of Bihar,1979, the Supreme Court of India elevated the Directive Principle, which provides for free legal aid, to the status of a fundamental right. Hence, the Right to Free Legal Aid, which was mentioned in the Directive Principles of State Policy, now became a fundamental right.
And we all know that Article 39A of the Indian Constitution provides free legal aid to the poor and the weaker sections of the society, and ensures justice for all.
Through Articles 14 and 22(1) of the Indian Constitution, it’s an obligation on the state to ensure equality before the law to all the people and establish a legal system that promotes justice on the basis of equality of opportunity to all.
So, the main aim of the National Legal Services Authority is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of legal aid programs and to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the act.
Establishment of the National Legal Services Authority
In order to give effect to these rights and to ensure that people are actually able to claim their right to free legal aid, the Parliament of India enacted the Legal Services Authority Act of 1987.
Under this, a State Legal Services Authority has been set up in every state. Moreover, a High Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted in every High Court. In districts, District Legal Services Authorities, and in Taluks, Taluk Legal Services Committees have been set up in order to give effect to the provisions of the act, and enhance the accessibility of the people to the free legal aid.
In addition to these, the Legal Services Authority Act also lays down the policies, guidelines, principles, and economical schemes for State Legal Services Authorities for implementing the programs throughout the country.
The main functions of the State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees are-
- To provide free and competent legal services to the eligible persons
- To organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes
- To organize legal awareness camps in the rural areas
The term ‘free legal service’ includes-
- Payment of court fee, process fee, and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings.
- Providing service of lawyers in legal proceedings.
- Obtaining and supply of certified copies of orders and other documents in legal proceedings.
- Preparation of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings.
Persons eligible for getting free legal services include:
- Women and children
- Members of SC/ST
- Industrial workmen
- Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster
- Disabled persons
- Persons in custody
- Persons whose annual income does not exceed 1 lakh
- Victims of trafficking in human beings or begar
The current Parton-in chief of the National Legal Services Authority is the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Justice N.V. Ramana.
The current Executive Chairman of the National Legal Services Authority is Hon’ble Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.
Click here to read about the Subordinate Courts of India
Interested in Polity?