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Providing Free Legal Aid

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Providing Free Legal Aid

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It contains the brief description on what is Free Legal Aid and how the poor and needy people can take the benefit of this service.

It contains the brief description on what is Free Legal Aid and how the poor and needy people can take the benefit of this service.

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Providing Free Legal Aid

  1. 1. LEGAL AID
  2. 2. The concept of seeking justice cannot be equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice. ---- Justice Blackmun in Jackson v Bish
  3. 3. WHAT IS LEGAL AID ? Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring  equality before the law,  the right to counsel,  and the right to a fair trial
  4. 4. EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW Equality before the law, also known as equality under the law, equality in the eyes of the law, or legal equality, is the principle under which all people are subject to the same laws of justice. The law and the judges must treat everyone equally before the law regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, national origin, colour, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other characteristics, without privilege, discrimination, or bias
  5. 5. RIGHT TO COUNSEL Right to counsel means a defendant has a right to have the assistance of counsel (i.e., lawyers), and if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, requires that the government appoint one or pay the defendants legal expenses.
  6. 6. RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL Article 10 states that: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."
  7. 7. WHY LEGAL AID? Legal aid to the poor and weak is necessary for the preservation of rule of law which is necessary for the existence of the orderly society. Until and unless poor illiterate man is not legally assisted, he is denied equality in the opportunity to seek justice. Therefore as a step towards making the legal service serve the poor and the deprived; the judiciary has taken active interest in providing legal aid to the needy in the recent past.
  8. 8. THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION The Indian Constitution provides for an independent and impartial judiciary and the courts are given power to protect the constitution and safeguard the rights of people irrespective of their financial status. Since the aim of the constitution is to provide justice to all and the directive principles are in its integral part of the constitution, the constitution dictates that judiciary has duty to protect rights of the poor as also society as a whole. The judiciary through its significant judicial interventions has compelled as well as guided the legislature to come up with the suitable legislations to bring justice to the doorsteps of the weakest sections of the society
  9. 9. CONTINUED.. Public Interest Litigation is one shining example of how Indian judiciary has played the role of the vanguard of the rights of Indian citizens especially the poor. It encouraged the public spirited people to seek justice for the poor. Apart from Public Interest Litigation and judicial activism, there are reforms in the judicial process, where it aims to make justice cheap and easy by introducing Lok Adalat system as a one of the methods to provide free legal aid and speedy justice at the door steps of the poor
  10. 10. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 The Act prescribes the criteria for giving legal services to the eligible persons. It makes a person eligible for assistance under the act if he is -  a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;  a victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;  a woman or a child;  a mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
  11. 11. CONTINUED..  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; or an industrial workman; or  in custody, including custody in a protective home or in a juvenile home  of in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987; or  (i) A person whose annual income less than rupees fifty thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government
  12. 12. Free Legal Aid in India : The positive Contribution of Judiciary  Hussainara Khatoon V Home secretary, state of bihar The petitioner brought to the notice of Supreme Court that most of the under trails have already undergone the punishment much more than what they would have got had they been convicted without any delay. The delay was caused due to inability of the persons involved to engage a legal counsel to defend them in the court and the main reason behind their inability was their poverty. Thus, in this case the court pointed out that Article 39-Aemphasized that free legal service was an inalienable element of reasonable, fair and just‘ procedure and that the right to free legal services was implicit in the guarantee of Article 21
  13. 13.  Khatri v. State of Bihar The right to free legal services is an essential ingredient of reasonable, fair and just procedure for a person accused of an offence and it must be held implicit in the guarantee of Article 21 and the State is under a constitutional mandate to provide a lawyer to an accused person if the circumstances of the case and the needs of justice so require…The State cannot avoid this obligation by pleading financial or administrative inability or that none of the aggrieved prisoners asked for any legal aid.
  14. 14. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. Hon’ble Mr. Justice H.L.Dattu, the Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, Judge, Supreme Court of India
  15. 15. CONTINUED.. In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority. In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts
  16. 16. After the constitution of the Central Authority and the establishment of NALSA office towards the beginning of 1998, following schemes and measures have been envisaged and implemented by the Central Authority:- (a) Establishing Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalats in all the Districts in the country for disposal of pending matters as well as disputes at pre-litigative stage; (b) Establishing separate Permanent & Continuous Lok Adalats for Govt. Departments, Statutory Authorities and Public Sector Undertakings for disposal of pending cases as well as disputes at pre-litigative stage; (c) Accreditation of NGOs for Legal Literacy and Legal Awareness campaign; (d) Appointment of "Legal Aid Counsel" in all the Courts of Magistrates in the country; (e) Disposal of cases through Lok Adalats on old pattern; (f) Publicity to Legal Aid Schemes and programmes to make people aware about legal aid facilities;
  17. 17. CONTINUED.. (g) Emphasis on competent and quality legal services to the aided persons; (h) Legal aid facilities in jails; (i) Setting up of Counseling and Conciliation Centers in all the Districts in the country; (j) Sensitisation of Judicial Officers in regard to Legal Services Schemes and programmes; (k) Publication of "Nyaya Deep", the official newsletter of NALSA; (l) Enhancement of Income Ceiling to Rs.1,25,000/- p.a. for legal aid before Supreme Court of India and to Rs.1,00,000/- p.a. for legal aid upto High Courts; and (m) Steps for framing rules for refund of court fees and execution of Awards passed by Lok Adalats
  18. 18. Conclusion and suggestions  Legal aid is not a charity or bounty, but is an obligation of the state and right of the citizens. The prime object of the state should be ―equal justice for all. Lack of legal awareness - It is the absence of legal awareness which leads to exploitation and deprivation of rights and benefits of the poor.

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