“In matters of truth and justice, there’s no difference between large and little problems, for issues concerning the treatment of individuals are all an equivalent.” – ALBERT EINSTEIN
Importance and validity:
Whenever any criminal wrong is committed it’s deemed to be committed against the society and there’s prosecutor who represents the society but till the case is unheard from both the edges it’s deemed that it’s not decided yet and an accused until proven guilty is innocent. Moreover the Constitution of every democratic country is enshrined with the principle of ‘audi alteram partem’, which means that both the parties should be heard before arriving to a conclusion. So there must be someone to represent the accused albeit he/she is unable to urge the legal aid from anyone otherwise there’ll only be injustice within the society. Hence, in line with the principle of natural justice the framers of our Constitution provided us with one among the foremost crucial fundamental right i.e. “right to free legal aid” and also it’s one among the directive principles of state policy which means that the state should provide free legal aid to the weaker and poor sections of the society. Free legal aid got its validity under the wings of Article 21 of The Constitution which can never be devoid of justice to the society, in addition to that Article 39A of The Constitution itself encourage the State to provide for free legal aid.
In pursuance of this in 1987, the ‘Legal Services Authorities Act’ was enacted by parliament, which came into force on 9th November, 1995 to determine a nationwide uniform network to supply free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society. For the needs of providing free legal aid, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Who all are entitled to free legal aid?
The basis of beneficiaries of free legal aid is taken up from Article 39A of The Constitution which provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society, to promote justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
Article 39A read as- “… and shall, in particular provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way…”
Under validation of the above read line the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted and passed.
“According to Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, the subsequent categories of individuals are entitled for free of charge legal services-
-A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
-A victim of trafficking in citizenry or beggar as mentioned in Article 23 of the Constitution;
-A woman or a child;
-An unsound or otherwise disabled person;
-A person under circumstances of undeserved want like being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or
-An industrial workman; or
-In custody, including custody during a protective home within the meaning of clause(g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956(104 of 1956); or during a juvenile home within the meaning of clause(j) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986); or during a mental hospital or psychiatric home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the psychological state Act, 1987(14 of 1987);or
-In receipt of annual income but rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as could also be prescribed by the government, if the case is before a court aside from the Supreme Court, and fewer than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as could also be prescribed by the central government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.”
Types of legal services provided
* Illustration by associate degree advocate in legal proceedings.
* Drafting of legal documents, special leave petition etc.
* Giving of recommendation on any legal matter.
* Preparation of pleadings.
* Rendering any service within the conduct of any case or alternative due process before any court or alternative authority or judicature.
How to apply
A person in want of free legal services will approach the involved authority or committee through associate degree application that might either be created by causing in written type or by filling up the forms ready by the aforesaid authorities stating in short the rationale for seeking legal aid or will be created orally, in which case an officer of the involved legal services authority or a paraprofessional volunteer can assist the person.
Once the appliance is submitted to the correct authority, it might be perused by the involved legal services establishment to look at what action is required upon constant. The knowledge regarding following step upon the appliance would then be sent to the parties involved.
There are many portals established by the government to form individuals privy to the free legal aid for the society to stay up the truthful balance of equity and justice.
The purpose of the welfare state, in which nothing but justice and equity prevails, can only be achieved when all the pillars of our democracy, the educational institutions and the non-governmental organizations will come together to make people aware about their rights.
On that it will be said that we as a State have achieved the purpose of the Constitution which is of foremost importance.
By : – Adv. Manik Chaubey