CJI stresses need to take legal aid services to people

Context: Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said there is “negligible use” of legal aid services in India despite it being available for free to the people.

CJI stresses need to take legal aid services to people

Constitutional provisions related to Free Legal Aid

  • Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that 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, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. 
  • Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. 

Evolution of free legal aid in India

  • 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.
  • This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994. 


  • National Legal Services Authority is the apex body constituted to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame most effective and economical schemes for legal services. It also disburses funds and grants to State Legal Services Authorities and NGOs for implementing legal aid schemes and programmes.
  • In every State a State Legal Services Authority is constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the Central Authority (NALSA) and to give legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. State Legal Services Authority is headed by the Chief Justice of the State High Court who is its Patron-in-Chief. A serving or retired Judge of the High Court is nominated as its Executive Chairman.
  • District Legal Services Authority is constituted in every District to implement Legal Aid Programmes and Schemes in the District. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.
  • Taluk Legal Services Committees are also constituted for each of the Taluk or Mandal or for group of Taluk or Mandals to coordinate the activities of legal services in the Taluk and to organise Lok Adalats. Every Taluk Legal Services Committee is headed by a senior Civil Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who is its ex-officio Chairman. 


Various authorities at different levels have been tasked to perform the following functions on a regular basis:

(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;
(g) Emphasis on competent and quality legal services to the aided persons;
(h) Legal aid facilities in jails;
(i) Setting up of Counselling and Conciliation Centers in all the Districts in the country;
(j) Sensitisation of Judicial Officers in regard to Legal Services Schemes and programmes

Eligible persons for free legal service

As per the act following persons are eligible for the free legal Aid:

  1. Members of Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribe
  2. A woman or a child
  3. A person with disability
  4. A person who is victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocities, flood drought, earthquake or industrial disaster.
  5. An industrial workman
  6. A person in custody including custody in protective home under provisions of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act,1956 or in juvenile home under the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 or in psychiatric nursing home within Mental Health Act, 1987.
  7. Persons whose annual income does not exceed ₹1 lakh (in t Supreme Court Legal Services Committee the limit ₹1,25,000/-) 

The Free Legal service includes the following:

(a) Payment of court fee, process fees and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings. 

(b) Providing service of lawyers in legal proceedings.
(c) Obtaining and supply of certified copies of orders and other documents in legal proceedings.
(d) Preparation of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar