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    AN ASSIGNMENT ON

    LEGAL AID , ITS NEED AND

    NECESSITY AND

    PARAMETERS OF LEGAL AID

    [ CLINICAL COURSE I ]

    From : Guided By :

    Peeyush Kumar , Dr. Eqbal Hussain ,

    B.A.LLB. ( H ) 7th Sem, Associate Professor ,

    Roll No. 42, Faculty Of Law ,

    Faculty Of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia

    Jamia Millia Islamia

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    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    I, Peeyush Kumar, would like to express my gratitude to our teacher, Dr. Eqbal Hussain, for making the subject

    so easy and understandable to us that has helped me to put my best efforts to the assignment.

    Thank you

    Peeyush Kumar

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    No. Description Page No.

    1. Introduction

    2. Definition, meaning and objective

    3. History of Legal Aid in India

    4. Legal Aid Movement

    ( Development and Present Status )

    5. Constitutional Provisions

    6. Statutory Provisions

    (a.) The Criminal Procedure Code

    (b.) The Civil Procedure Code

    (c.) Legal services Authority Act, 1987

    I. Objective And Importance

    II. Recent Amendments

    III. The National Legal Services Authority

    IV. State Legal Services Authority

    V. Supreme Court Legal Service Committee

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    VI. High Court Legal Service Committee

    VII. District Legal Service Authority

    VIII. Taluk Legal Service Committee

    IX. Lok Adalat

    Organization ,cognizable cases and powers

    7. Legal aid in India

    (a.) Supreme Court on Legal Aid

    (b.) Related Cases

    8. Legal Aid in other Countries

    9. Recommendation

    10. Conclusion

    11. Abbreviations Used

    12. Referred Cases

    13. Websites

    14. Research Methodology

    15. Bibliography

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    INTRODUCTION

    Whatever standards a man chooses to set for himself, be they religious, moral,social or purely rational in origin, it is the law which prescribes and his rights and

    duties towards the other members of the community. This somewhat arbitrary

    collection of principles he has very largely to take as he finds and in a modern

    society it tends to be so diverse and complex that the help of an expert is often

    essential not merely to enforce or defend legal rights but to recognize, identify and

    define them.

    -Mathews and Outton

    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.

    A number of delivery models for legal aid have emerged, including duty lawyers, community legal

    clinics and the payment of lawyers to deal with cases for individuals who are entitled to legal aid.

    5

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_lawhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_lawhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_counselhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_a_fair_trialhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_lawhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_lawhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_counselhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_a_fair_trial
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    DEFINITION, MEANING AND OBJECTIVE

    Legal aid may be taken to mean free legal assistance to the poor persons in any judicial proceedings before the

    Court, Tribunals or any authority. It intends to provide free legal assistance to the poor persons who are not able

    to enforce the rights given to them by law.

    Justice P.N. Bhagwati1 has clearly stated that legal aid means providing an arrangement in the society which

    makes the machinery of administration of Justice easily accessible and in reach of those who have to resort to it

    for enforcement of rights given to them by law. He has rightly said that the poor and the illiterate should be able

    to approach the courts and their ignorance and poverty should not be an impediment in the way of obtaining

    justice from the Courts. The constitution of India gives much importance to rule of law. In India, it is regarded

    as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and also of natural justice. Free legal aid to the poor and weak

    persons has been held to be necessary adjunct of the rule of law.

    The importance of good legal aid is often overlooked until a serious need for legal counsel or representation

    arises. The reasons people need legal aid can vary as widely as the individuals themselves. Some people need

    legal representation for civil suits, either as the claimant or defendant. Others need help dealing with a divorce,

    DUI charge, or minor criminal offense. Many people employ legal aid for help in writing wills or for counsel

    before signing business contracts. Whatever the need for legal aid, it is certain to be an important issue and one

    in which there is no room for mistakes.

    For 60 years legal aid has formed an integral part of the welfare state ensuring access to justice for those who

    cannot otherwise afford it. Without legal aid ordinary and vulnerable people would not be able to use the law to

    protect themselves and achieve their rights.

    1 Report of the Legal Aid Committee, 1971

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    Legal aid pays for these people to get help, advice and representation. It is used not only to defend people

    accused of committing crimes, but also for many other things including preventing homelessness and helping

    vulnerable people receive the health and social services they need to live positive lives, and to which they are

    entitled.

    With this in mind in late 2009 the Save Legal Aid aid campaign was set up by the Alliance for Legal Aid.

    There are two key aims behind the campaign.

    To raise awareness amongst the general public and charities of the importance of legal aid.

    To retain and hopefully increase the current levels of funding for legal aid.

    Legal aid is a fundamental aspect of our justice system and democracy. A government funded legal aid program

    has become a justice-related part of the modern state. It is an integral part of our justice system.

    For many Indians, legal aid is synonymous with access to justice. Equality of treatment under the law, access to

    legal advice and services and equal, effective and comprehensive rights for all people are fundamental

    preconditions of social justice.

    To those engaged in the justice system, either as professionals, as users of the system or as those who are denied

    access to the system, the crucial importance of legal aid is obvious. There are others, though, for whom it is

    unclear how abstract principles of justice and democracy are linked to decisions about the availability of legal

    aid. A close examination of the rationale for legal aid is an essential foundation for a public discussion on the

    future of state-funded legal assistance in India.1

    Legal Aid and Fairness

    1 www.savelegalaid.org

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    http://www.savelegalaid.org/about.htmlhttp://www.savelegalaid.org/about.html
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    Fairness is the heart of our justice system. Ours is an adversarial system that depends upon a contest between

    two roughly equal parties. If there is a serious disparity in the power balance between the parties, the fairness of

    the procedure and the outcome is uncertain. Questions of fairness arise whenever one party is represented in a

    legal proceeding and the other is not, or where there is a large imbalance in the resources available to opposing

    counsel.

    The relationship between the adversarial system, legal aid and fairness has been described in these terms:

    The procedure here is founded on the adversary system...it is based on the premise that the truth will emerge

    from the contest between the two adversaries where each presents its case before an impartial tribunal. Each

    side will do its best to establish its own case and to destroy the opponents case. Out of this conflict, truth and

    justice will surface. Where, however, in fairness and in the circumstances of the case, one of the parties is

    incapable of self-representation, confidence in the system is threatened. The adversaries must be equal or

    relatively equal before the tribunal. If they are not, the procedure is in danger of degenerating into one of moral

    ambivalence.

    Fairness in battle cannot be achieved if only one party is armed. This is not an abstract principle but a hard

    reality. In criminal cases, this is especially evident where an unrepresented accused is pitted against the

    professional representation and resources of the Crown.

    Other clear examples of unfairness can arise in proceedings concerning state apprehension of children or

    custody or access proceedings between parents of unequal means. In these circumstances, parents, most often

    mothers, can be particularly vulnerable to legal proceedings.

    The state or other parent, in many cases with significantly greater resources, can marshal extensive evidence

    and rely on expert opinion to attack attributes such as care giving ability. Without legal representation, parents

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    may be ill-equipped to fairly present their own cases, possibly resulting in devastating long term consequences

    for both themselves and their children.1

    HISTORY OF LEGAL AID IN INDIA

    1 www.legalserviceindia.com

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    The earliest Legal Aid movement appears to be of the year 1851 when some enactment was introduced in

    France for providing legal assistance to the indigent. In Britain, the history of the organized efforts on the part

    of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to 1944, when Lord Chancellor, Viscount

    Simon appointed the Rushcliffe Committee to enquire about the facilities existing in England and Wales for

    giving legal advice to the poor and to make recommendations as appear to be desirable for ensuring that persons

    in need of legal advice are provided the same by the State. Since 1952, the Government of India also took the

    initiative to addressing to the question of legal aid for the poor and indigent in various Ministerial Law

    Conferences and Commissions. In 1960, some guidelines were drawn up by the Government of India for legalaid schemes.

    Legal Aid Schemes were floated through Legal Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments in various States in

    the Country. In 1980, a National Committee was constituted, under the Chairmanship of Honorable. Mr. Justice

    P.N. Bhagwati then a Judge of the Supreme Court of India to oversee and supervise legal aid programs

    throughout the country. This Committee came to be known as CILAS (Committee for Implementing Legal Aid

    Schemes) and started monitoring legal aid activities throughout the country. The introduction of Lok Adalats

    added a new chapter to the Justice Dispensation System of this country and succeeded in providing a

    supplementary forum to the litigants for conciliatory settlement of their disputes. The year 1987, proved to be

    very significant in Legal Aid history, as the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutorybase to legal aid programs throughout the country and bring about a uniform pattern. This Act was finally

    enforced on 9th of November, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of

    1994. Honorable Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra the then Chief Justice of India played a key role in the enforcement of

    the Act.

    LEGAL AID MOVEMENT IN INDIA - ITS

    DEVELOPMENT AND PRESENT STATUS

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    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.1

    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. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional

    pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker

    sections of the society.2

    The earliest Legal Aid movement appears to be of the year 1851 when some enactment was introduced in

    France for providing legal assistance to the indigent. In Britain, the history of the organised efforts on the part

    of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to 1944, when Lord Chancellor, Viscount

    Simon appointed Rushcliffe Committee to enquire about the facilities existing in England and Wales for giving

    legal advice to the poor and to make recommendations as appear to be desirable for ensuring that persons in

    need of legal advice are provided thesame by the State. Since 1952, the Govt. of India also started addressing to

    the question of legal aid for the poor in various conferences of Law Ministers and Law Commissions. In 1960,

    some guidelines were drawn by the Govt. for legal aid schemes. In different states legal aid schemes were

    floated through Legal Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments. In 1980, a Committee at the national level

    was constituted to oversee and supervise legal aid programmes throughout the country under the Chairmanship

    of Hon. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati then a Judge of the S.C. of India. This Committee came to be known as

    CILAS (Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes) and started monitoring legal aid activities

    throughout the country. The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system

    1 The Constitution of India, Article 39 A

    2 The Constitution of India, Article 14 and 22(1)

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    of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the litigants for conciliatory settlement of

    their disputes.

    In 1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes

    throughout the country on a uniform pattern. This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November, 1995 after

    certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994. Hon. Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra the

    then Chief Justice of India played a key role in the enforcement of the Act.

    National Legal Services Authority was constituted on 5th December, 1995. His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice

    A.S. Anand, Judge, S.C. of India took over as the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority on

    17the July, 1997. Soon after assuming the office, His Lordship initiated steps for making the National Legal

    Services Authority functional. The first Member Secretary of the authority joined in December, 1997 and by

    January, 1998 the other officers and staff were also appointed. By February, 1998 the office of National Legal

    Services Authority became properly functional for the first time.

    According to section 2(1) (a) of the Act, legal aid can be provided to a person for a 'case' which includes a suit

    or any proceeding before a court. Section 2(1) (aaa) defines the 'court' as a civil, criminal or revenue court and

    includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law for the time being in force, to exercise

    judicial or quasi-judicial functions.

    As persection 2(1)(c) 'legal service' includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other

    legal proceeding before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter.1

    Legal Services Authorities after examining the eligibility criteria of an applicant and the existence of a prima

    facie case in his favour provide him counsel at State expense, pay the required Court Fee in the matter and bear

    all incidental expenses in connection with the case. The person to whom legal aid is provided is not called upon

    to spend anything on the litigation once it is supported by a Legal Services Authority.

    1 The Legal services Authority Act, 1987, Section 2

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    A nationwide network has been envisaged under the Act for providing legal aid and assistance. 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 SLSA and NGOs for implementing legal aid schemes and

    programmes.

    In every State a SLSA 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. SLSA is headed by the

    Chief Justice of the State H.C. who is its Patron-in-Chief. A serving or retired Judge of the H.C. is nominated

    as its Executive Chairman.

    DLSA 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.

    TLSA 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 organize Lok Adalats. Every TLSC is headed by a senior Civil

    Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who is its ex-officio Chairman.

    Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalats are being established in all the Districts in the country. NALSA has

    been providing and shall continue to provide funds to SLSA for the implementation of the Legal Aid Schemes

    and Programmes but the infrastructure has to be provided by the State Govts. Separate Permanent and

    Continuous Lok Adalats in Govt. Departments are aimed at amicably settling pending cases as well as the

    matters at pre-litigative stage between Govt. Departments and general public so that the inflow of litigation to

    regular Courts is reduced. In so many Govt. bodies these Lok Adalats have become functional. In Delhi

    Permanent Lok Adalats have been established in Delhi Vidyut Board, Delhi Development Authority, Municipal

    Corpn. Of Delhi, MTNL and General Insurance Corpn. These Lok Adalats are becoming popular day-by-day

    and it is expected that very soon a large number of disputes between public and statutory authorities would start

    getting settled at pre-litigative stage itself saving the parties from unnecessary expense and litigational

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    inconvenience. In other States also SLSA have initiated steps to pursuade the State Govts. and statutory bodies,

    etc. to set up separate Permanent Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of their legal disputes.

    "Legal Aid Counsel" Scheme which was conceived and introduced by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S.

    Anand when His Lordship was the Executive Chairman, NALSA has been well received all over country. Legal

    Aid Counsel have been provided in most of the courts of the Magistrates in the country to provide immediate

    legal assistance to those prisoners who are not in a position to engage their own counsel.

    In pursuance of the resolutions passed in the First Annual Meet of the SLSA, the income ceiling for eligibility

    for legal aid and assistance has been already enhanced to Rs.50, 000/- p.a. for legal aid before the S.C. of India.

    Many States have already framed rules enhancing this income ceiling to Rs.25, 000/- p.a. for legal aid up to

    H.C.s. Other States are also taking steps for the amendment of rules in this regard. Rules are also being framed

    in all the States for the refund of court fees in the suits compromised in Lok Adalats in terms of section 21 of

    the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Rules regarding execution of Awards passed by Lok Adalats have

    been framed in some of the States.

    As per information available with NALSA office, 72,038 Lok Adalats have been organised throughout the

    country up to 30.6.2000 in which about 1.2 crore cases have been amicably settled. Out of these over 5 Lac

    cases pertain to Motor Accident Compensation Claims in which compensation amounting to over Rs.2,469

    crores has been awarded. In the year 1999 itself 15,198 Lok Adaats were organised throughout the country in

    which over 9,67,000 cases were amicably settled.

    His Lordship Hon. Mr. Justice S.P. Bharucha, Executive Chairman, NALSA has repeatedly called upon SLSA

    to continue to hold Lok Adalats on old pattern so that the pace of the disposal of cases through Lok Adalats is

    not inhibited. Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalats are primarily aimed at settling disputes at pre-litigative

    stage and more contentious pending matters in District courts in which the parties can be motivated only by

    repeated sitting to arrive at settlement. Counselling and Conciliation Centers at Districts and Permanent Lok

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    Adalats in Districts can be under same roof and can effectively function in unison. Most significant contribution

    by Legal Services Authorities to the administration of justice would be to settle legal disputes through Lok

    Adalats at pre-litigative stage so that the inflow of cases in our already over-burdened courts is reduced to the

    extent possible.

    Upto 30.6.2000 about 31.47 Lac persons have taken benefit of legal aid through Legal Services

    Authorities out of whom about 5 Las belong to Scheduled Castes, over 2 Las to Scheduled Tribes, about 2.75

    Lac are women and about 9,000 are children. Most of the offices of the SLSA are now equipped with FAX

    machines, computers and E-mail facilities. These modern gadgets shall surely help legal services functionaries

    to act swiftly to provide legal aid and assistance to the eligible persons in a meaningful manner. NALSA is very

    sure that under the kind patronage and guidance of Hon. The Chief Justice of India and Hon. Executive

    Chairman, a vibrant nationwide network of Legal Services Authorities shall be made available to the people to

    provide free and competent legal services to the eligible persons. NALSA is keen to develop and promote a

    culture of conciliation instead of litigation in the country so that the citizens of this country prefer to resolve

    their disputes and differences across the table in a spirit of goodwill and brotherhood. NALSA also wishes to

    ensure that even the weakest amongst the weak in the country does not suffer injustice arising out of any

    abrasive action on the part of State or private person.

    The Constitution of India emphasizes on the equality and justice. The preamble of the Constitution secures all

    its citizen, social, economic and political justice. Article 14 of the Constitution makes it clear that the State shall

    not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Aim

    of Article 14 is to ensure the equal justice. The guarantee of equal justice will be meaningless if the poor or

    illiterate or weak persons cannot enforce their rights because of their poverty or illiteracy or weakness. The

    legal aid should be provided to such person so that the guarantee of equal justice may be meaningful.1

    1 The Constitution of India, Article 14

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    Besides, the Constitution of India confers on the citizens many Fundamental Rights. Even the enforcement of

    the Fundamental Rights has been guaranteed by the Constitution. In the case of infringement of the

    Fundamental Right, the right to move to the S.C. in itself a Fundamental Right. It is the duty of the S.C. to

    enforce the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. If the citizen whose right has been violated

    does not file petition before the Court by reason of poverty or illiteracy etc. the Court will be helpless and

    cannot punish persons violating the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. If legal aid is provided

    to such a person, he may be able to file petition in The Court and if the petition is filed, the Court may be in the

    position to do justice and punish the persons who have violated the constitutional provisions. The legal aid,

    thus, provides assistance to the Court in discharging its function as protector and guarantor of the Fundamental

    Rights.

    The Constitution of India gives much emphasis on the constitutionalism and rule of law. Even the Government

    is to function under the Constitution. The rule of law plays important role in the administration of the country. It

    provides protection to the people against the arbitrary action of the administration. It provides protection to the

    individual from unlawful action of the Government and its officers by compelling them to exercise their powers

    in accordance with the law. In India the rule of law is regarded as a part of the basic structure of the

    Constitution and also of natural justice. Free legal aid has been held to be necessary adjunct of the rule of law. If

    the poor persons fail to enforce their rights because of poverty, etc. they may lose faith in the administration of

    justice and instead of knocking the door of law and Courts to seek justice they may try to settle their disputes on

    the streets or to protect their rights by the muscle power and in such condition. There will be anarchy and

    complete death of the rule of law. Thus the legal aid to poor and weak person, are necessary for the preservation

    of rule of law which is necessary for the existence of the orderly society.

    1

    1 www.causelists.nic.in/nlsa/

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    CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

    The preamble of the Constitution and Article 14, give much emphasis on the equal justice. For the maintenance

    of equal justice in real sense every person should have opportunity to seek justice. The economic inequality

    sometimes prevents a poor person to seek justice. In such condition the free legal aid to poor and weak person

    to seek justice. In such condition the free legal aid to poor and weak persons is necessary for the maintenance of

    equal justice in real sense.1

    1 The Constitution of India, Article 14

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    Articles 38 and 39, of the Constitution of India are notable. According to Article 38(1) the State shall strive to

    promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which

    justice, social, economic or political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.1

    Article 39A provides that 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 by suitable legislation or schemes or in

    any other way, to ensure that opportunities for searching justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of

    economic and other disabilities.2 Right to free legal aid or free legal service is essential ingredient of reasonable

    fair and just procedure and implicit in the guarantee of the right to life and personal liberty underArticle 21.

    This is the constitutional right of every accused person who is unable to engage lawyer due to poverty. The state

    is under the mandate to provide a lawyer to an accused person if the circumstances of the case and needs of

    justice so require provided the accused person do not object to the provision of such lawyer.

    In State of Maharashtra v. Manubhai Pragaji Vashi,3The S.C. has observed that it is the duty of the State to

    afford grants-in-aid to recognized private law colleges. For providing the free legal aid, there must be trained

    lawyer in the country and this is possible only when there are adequate number of law colleges with necessary

    infra-structure, good teacher and staff. Since the Government is not able to establish adequate number of law

    colleges, it is the duty of the Government to permit the establishment of duly recognized private law colleges

    and afford them grant-in-aid on similar lines which are given to the Government law colleges. The Court has

    made it clear that the Article 21 and Article 39-A, casts duty on the State to give grant-in-aid to the recognized

    private law colleges similar to the Facilities of Art, Science, Commerce etc. This duty cannot be avoided on the

    ground of paucity funds or otherwise.

    1 The Constitution of India, Article 38

    2 The Constitution of India, Article 39

    3 1995 S.C.C. 730

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    In Khatri & Others v. St. of Bihar & others4 Bhagmati J. observed;

    Right to free legal aid, just, fail and reasonable procedures is a fundamental right (Khatoons Case). It is

    elementary that the jeopardy to his personal liberty arises as soon as the person is arrested and is produced

    before a magistrate for it is at this stage that he gets the 1st opportunity to apply for bail and obtain his release

    as also to resist remain to police or jail custody. This is the stage at which and accused person needs competent

    legal advice and representation. No procedure can be said to be just, fair and reasonable which denies legal

    advice representation to the accused at this stage. Thus, state is under a constitutional obligation to provide free

    to aid to the accused not only at the stage of .... Every individual of the society are entitled as a matter of

    prerogative.

    STATUATORY PROVISIONS

    1. The Criminal Procedure Code

    The Criminal Procedure Code and The Civil Procedure Code also contain provisions in relation to the legal

    aid.

    Section 304(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that where in a trial before the Court of Session,

    the accused is not represented by a pleader and where it appears to the Court that the accused has not

    sufficient means to engage a pleader the Court shall assign a pleader for his defense at the expense of the

    State. Section 304(2) provides that the H.C. may with the approval of the State Government make rules for

    4 A.I.R 1981 S.C. 928

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    the mode of selecting pleaders for defense under aforesaid sub-section (1) of Section 304 the section, the

    facilities to be allowed to such pleaders by the courts the fees payable to such pleaders by the Government

    and for carrying out the purposes of sub-section (1) stated above.

    Sub-section (3) and Section 304 provides that the State Government may by notification, direct that as

    from such date as may be specified in the notification. The aforesaid provisions of sub-subsection (1) and

    sub-section (2) of Section 304 shall apply in relation to trial before the Courts of Session.

    Section 304 thus makes it clear that the State is under an obligation to provide legal assistance to a person

    charged with the offence triable before the Court of Session. It enables the State Government to direct that

    this provision shall apply in relation to any class to trials before other Courts in the State.

    2. The Civil Procedure Code

    Order XXXIII of the Civil Procedure Code provides in the respect of the suit by indigent person. On the

    application to sue as indigent person is being granted the plaintiff shall not be liable to pay court fee and in case

    he is not represented by a pleader, the Court may, if the circumstances of the case so required assign a pleader

    to him. The benefit has now been extended to the defendant also. According to the rule 18 of the order subject

    to the provision of Order XXXIII the Central Government or State Government may make such supplementary

    provisions as it thinks fit for providing free legal services to those persons who have been submitted to sue as

    indigent persons. The Order XLIV makes provisions respect of appeals by indigent person.

    A separate legislation The Legal Services Authority Act has been passed so as to provide legal aid to the poor

    and weaker sections of the society.

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    3. The Legal Services Authority Act

    Object and Importance

    The Legal Services Authority Act 1987 has been enacted to constitute the Legal Service Authorities to the

    weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by

    reason of economic or other disabilities and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal

    system promote justice on the basis of equal opportunity.

    Certain salient features of the Act are enumerated below:-

    Section 2 Definitions.-

    (1) (c) 'legal service' includes the rendering of any service in the conduct any case or other legal proceeding

    before any court or other Authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter;

    (d) 'Lok Adalat' means a Lok Adalat organized under Chapter VI;

    (g) 'scheme' means any scheme framed by the Central Authority, a State Authority or a District Authority for

    the purpose of giving effect to any of the provisions of this Act;

    (h) 'State Authority' means a State Legal Services Authority constituted under Section 6;

    (1) Any reference in this Act to any other enactment or any provision thereof shall, in relation to an area

    in which such enactment or provision is not in force, be construed as a reference to the

    corresponding law or the relevant provision of the corresponding law, if any, in force in that area.

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    (2) Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 prescribes the criteria for giving legal

    services to the eligible persons. Section 12 of the Act reads as under:-

    (3) "12.Every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if

    that person is -

    (a) a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;

    (b) a victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;

    (c) a woman or a child;

    (d) a mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;

    (e) 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

    (f) an industrial workman; or

    (g) in custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2

    of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (104 of 1956); or in a juvenile home within the

    meaning of clause

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    (j) of section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986) or in a psychiatric hospital or

    psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Mental Health Act,

    1987 (14 of 1987); or

    (h) in receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may

    be prescribed by the State Govt., if the case is before a court other than the S.C., and less than rupees

    twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Govt., if the case

    is before the S.C.."

    Section 19

    1.Central, State, District and Taluk Legal Services Authority has been created who are responsible for

    organizing Lok Adalats at such intervals and place.

    2.Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following: -

    a. A sitting or retired judicial officer.

    b. other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice

    ofH.C..

    Section 20: Reference of Cases

    Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under:-

    1. By consent of both the parties to the disputes.

    2. One of the parties makes an application for reference.

    3. Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok

    Adalat.

    4. Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other legal

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    principles.

    5. Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation, the matter shall be returned to the concerned

    court for disposal in accordance with Law.

    Section 21

    After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties, award is passed by the conciliators. The matter need

    not be referred to the concerned Court for consent decree.

    The Act provisions envisages as under:

    1. Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court.

    2. Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute.

    3. No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat.

    Section 22

    Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of :-

    1. Summoning of Witnesses.

    2. Discovery of documents.

    3. Reception of evidences.

    4. Requisitioning of Public record.

    According to section 2(1) (a) of the Act, legal aid can be provided to a person for a 'case' which includes a suit

    or any proceeding before a court. Section 2(1) (aaa) defines the 'court' as a civil, criminal or revenue court and

    includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law for the time being in force, to exercise

    judicial or quasi-judicial functions. As per section 2(1)(c) 'legal service' includes the rendering of any service in

    the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving

    of advice on any legal matter.

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    Recent Amendments Made To The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

    The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to constitute legal services authorities for providing free

    and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that

    Order 33, rule 17, CPC: - Suit by or against an indigent person. When a plaint along with petition, that person

    unable to avail services of a lawyer, then court exempts him from court fees.

    The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to constitute legal services authorities for providing free

    and competent legal services to the 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 and to organize Lok Adalats to

    ensure that the operation of the legal system promoted justice on a basis of equal opportunity. The system of

    Lok Adalat, which is an innovative mechanism for alternate dispute resolution, has proved effective for

    resolving disputes in a spirit of conciliation outside the courts.

    However, the major drawback in the existing scheme of organization of the Lok Adalats under Chapter VI of

    the said Act is that the system of Lok Adalats is mainly based on compromise or settlement between the parties.

    If the parties do not arrive at any compromise or settlement, the case is either returned to the court of law or the

    parties are advised to seek remedy in a court of law. This causes unnecessary delay in the dispensation of

    justice. If Lok Adalats are given power to decide the cases on merits in case parties fails to arrive at any

    compromise or settlement, this problem can be tackled to a great extent. Further, the cases which arise in

    relation to public utility services such as Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Delhi Vidyut Board, etc., need

    to be settled urgently so that people get justice without delay even at pre-litigation stage and thus most of the

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    petty cases which ought not to go in the regular courts would be settled at the pre-litigation stage itself which

    would result in reducing the workload of the regular courts to a great extent. It is, therefore, proposed to amend

    the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to set up Permanent Lok Adalats for providing compulsory pre-

    litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to public utility services.

    The salient features of the amendment are as follows:

    (i) to provide for the establishment of Permanent Lok Adalats which shall consist of a Chairman who is or has

    been a district judge or additional district judge or has held judicial office higher in rank than that of the district

    judge and two other persons having adequate experience in public utility services;

    (ii) the Permanent Lok Adalat shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of one or more public utility services such as

    transport services of passengers or goods by air, road and water, postal, telegraph or telephone services, supply

    of power, light or water to the public by any establishment, public conservancy or sanitation, services in

    hospitals or dispensaries; and insurance services;

    (iii) the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be up to rupees ten lakhs. However, the

    Central Government may increase the said pecuniary jurisdiction from time to time. It shall have not

    jurisdiction in respect of any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law;

    (iv) it also provides that before the dispute is brought before any court, any party to the dispute may make an

    application to the Permanent Lok Adalat for settlement of the dispute;

    (v) where it appears to the Permanent Lok Adalat that there exist elements of a settlement, which may be

    acceptable to the parties, it shall formulate the terms of a possible settlement and submit them to the parties for

    their observations and in case the parties reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall pass an award in

    terms thereof. In case parties to the dispute fail to reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall decide

    the dispute on merits; and

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    (vi) every award made by the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties thereto and

    shall be by a majority of the persons constituting the Permanent Lok Adalat.

    Article 39A of the Constitution of India imposes duty on the State to secure that the operation of the legal

    system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid by

    suitable legislation. To fulfill the constitutional obligation, in 1980 the Government appointed the committee for

    implementing legal aid schemes under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati to implement the legal

    aid programme applicable throughout India.1

    The focus of the committee was the indigent person seeking to access justice. Answering to the question of

    inequality in the administration of justice between the rich and the poor the report clearly stated that there can

    be no rule of law unless the common man irrespective of the fact whether he is rich or poor is able to assert and

    vindicate to the rights given to him by the law. The machinery of law should be readily accessible to all. The

    poor must be placed in the same position as the rich by means of adequate legal service programme. It stated

    that the inequality between the rich and the poor in administration of the justice can be removed by establishing

    and developing effective system of the legal aid programme. Legal aid and advice should be regarded not as a

    matter of charity or bounty but as a matter of right. It is a part of social security programme just as much as

    medical aid is.

    There was unanimous decision of the Committee that the State should regard it as an obligation to provide legal

    assistance to the poor and indigent. It stated that this obligation of the State was not merely, socio-economic or

    political but is also constitutional by reason of Articles 14 and 22(1}.

    Further the report stated that the legislation and rules so made by the government should not be another piece of

    legislation made with the reference of any foreign legislation as there is a marked difference between socio-

    economic conditions prevailing in advanced countries and those prevailing in developing countries like India.

    1 The Constitution of India, Article 39A

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    It also emphasized on having legal aid programmes and that the organization for effectuating the legal service

    programme must be responsive to the poor in giving legal service and must not be mechanical and wooden in its

    approach. Even after, such a programme is introduced there must be a continuous examination of its utility and

    its responsiveness to the poor.

    The report also made an effort to classify those categories of persons who are most in need of Legal Aid, they

    are as follows:-

    (a.)The poor in general;

    (b.)Those persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, i.e. that category

    of persons who have been both economically as well as socially exploited by the cultural

    elitists since time immemorial.

    (c.) Those persons who either by reason of being inhabitants of backward areas or who are so

    geographically placed that their voice cannot reach the Courts of justice, e.g. People who

    are inhabitants of Scheduled Areas, Mountainous terrains, landlocked regions etc.

    (d.)The workman and the peasantry class who toil and labour to earn rewards for their hard

    work of which they are often deprived.

    (e.) Those soldiers and armed forces personnel who in order to protect the boarders are

    stationed at the edge of the land for long periods of time.

    (f.) Women and children who are deprived social justice on grounds of biological infirmity.

    (g.)Untouchables or those who are referred to as Harijans and who even after abolition of

    Unctouchability under Article 17 of the Indian Constitution are shunned by the

    Administrative class on the ground of their unacceptance in the community.

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    The14th Law Commission Report stated the fact that if laws do not provide for an equality of opportunity to

    seek justice to all segments of society the have no protective value and unless some arrangement is made for

    providing a poor man the means to pay Court fees, advocates fees and other incidental costs of litigation, he is

    denied an opportunity to seek justice.

    Justice Krishna Iyer rightly observed that, "Such a consummation, a proposition to which we are

    constitutionally dedicated is possible only through an activist scheme of legal aid, conceived wisely and

    executed vigorously." He went on to state that Law and Justice cannot be regarded as two separate wings any

    longer and that it had become necessary that they in unison work towards resurrecting the faith of the poor man

    in the legal system by providing him with adequate non- Governmental as well as Governmental assistance.

    The report also in detail dealt with the true scope and extent of the legal aid. It recommended that the question is

    what costs, charges and expenses to be incurred by a litigant in court should be provided from the legal aid fund

    as part of legal aid scheme. The court fees constitute one of the largest constituents of legal expenses involved

    in a proceeding in a court of law. Instead of providing necessary funds to the assisted person to make payment

    of court fees the State should by legislation remit court fees in case of an assisted person. The scheme of legal

    aid should not be based on class or status.

    The report also in detail stated the constitution and the working of different legal committees:

    (a)The Taluka Legal Aid Committee.- It was recommended that there shall be a Taluka Legal Aid Committee

    in every Taluka having a court of Civil Judge (Junior Division) or Judicial magistrate, It shall have power to

    deal with the applications for legal aid in proceedings before the taluka court as also before the Tenancy

    Tribunal situated within the taluka.

    The presiding Judge or Magistrate should be the ex-officio member and Chairman and the other members of the

    Committee shall be (i) the President of the Taluka Bar Association ex-officio or a senior lawyer practicing in

    the Taluka court,

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    (ii) one other lawyer practicing in the Taluka Court

    (iii) one retired Judge or Magistrate, if available, and

    (iv) one and if no retired Judge of or Magistrate is available, two social workers or public spirited citizens. The

    members of the Taluka Legal Aid Committee would work in honorary capacity and they would ordinarily hold

    office for a period of three years. Its accounts were also to be audited annually by the Government auditor along

    with the audit of the accounts of the Taluka Court. The Secretary of the Taluka Legal Aid Committee was to be

    appointed with the prior approval of the District Legal Aid Committee.

    (b)The District Legal Aid Committee - The same provisions was applicable mutatis mutandis in respect of

    the District Legal Committee. Apart from the District Judge and the president of the District Bar Association,

    one more lawyer, a retired Judge or Magistrate or two social workers, the other members of the Committee was

    to be the Government Pleader of the District Court ex-officio, the President of the District Panchayat ex-officio

    and the Principal or a teacher of law college selected by the district judge.

    (c)The State Legal Aid Committee. - It was to be at the apex of the entire Legal Aid Organization and was

    suggested to be a High power Body composed of different social interests dedicated to the cause of

    administration of legal aid. It was to have as its Chairman the Chief Justice or a H.C. Judge nominated by him.

    The other members of the Committee constituted of the Advocate General, President of the H.C. Bar

    Association or the Vice-President, Chairman of State Bar Councilor the Vice-Chairman, one senior member of

    the H.C. Bar, three members of the mofussil Bar, one District Government Pleader, District Judges of Rajkot,

    Baroda and Surat, Secretary, Legal Department and Finance Secretary of the State Government, two members

    of the State Legislative Assembly, Director of Backward Classes, four social workers and a teacher of law. This

    Committee was to have mainly supervisory functions and lay down policies and principles for the

    administration of the Legal Aid Scheme. There was to be a State Director of Legal Aid responsible for the

    actual administration of the Legal Aid Programme within the State and was to be the Chief Executive Officer of

    the State Legal Aid Committee. The Committee was to exercise control over all the Legal Aid Committee in the

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    State, and similarly the Taluka Legal Aid Committees shall be under the control and supervision of the District

    Legal Aid Committee.

    A special mention and recommendation was given regarding the Bail System. The bail system caused

    discrimination against the poor since the poor would not be able to furnish bail, while wealthier persons

    otherwise similarly situate would be able to furnish bail. The poor accused had often to fall back on touts and

    professional sureties for providing bail to suffer pre-trial detention the committee stated that the bail system was

    extremely unsatisfactory as and required reform so that it should be possible for the poor, as easily as for the

    rich, to obtain pre-trial release without jeopardizing the interests of justice. The committee giving wide powers

    to the magistrate suggested that if a Magistrate was satisfied after making an inquiry into the conditions and

    background of the accused that the accused has his roots in the community and is not likely to abscond, he

    could release the accused on order to appear or on his own recognizance. The Magistrate must ordinarily do so

    unless the Prosecutor can show that, having regard to the conditions and background of the accused, there is a

    substantial risk of his non-appearance at the trial. The decision as regards the amount of bail should be an

    individual decision depending on the individual financial circumstances of the accused and the probability of

    his absconding. When the accused is released on bail the magistrate must give a sufficiently long date, so that

    on the date on which the accused appears the case does not have to be adjourned on the ground that the charge

    sheet is not filed. If on the adjourned date the charge sheet is not filed the prosecution must be made to pay the

    cost of adjournment to the accused or in the alternative the magistrate may grant exemption to the accused from

    appearance until the charge sheet is filed provided that the accused is represented by a lawyer. There should not

    be too many adjournments on the ground that the prosecution is not ready with its witnesses. The magistrate

    should be given power to order payment of costs of adjournment to the accused where the prosecution has not

    taken reasonable steps to secure the presence of any witness and the case has to be adjourned on that account.

    They also suggested that the penal law should be amended with a view to providing that if the accused willfully

    fails to appear in compliance with the order to appear or the promise contained in his recognizance he shall be

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    liable to be punished with imprisonment or fine or both. The law should also provide that the failure of the

    accused to appear when required would constitute prima facie evidence that the failure was willful. The

    Magistrates may start releasing the accused on his own recognizance in cases where the offence charged does

    not involve imprisonment for more than one year. The committee further stated that if it was found from

    experience gained as a result of following this practice for a year or two, that the practice is working

    satisfactorily, the Magistrates may extend this practice to cases involving slightly higher offences.

    The committee knowing that a large amount of finance would be required for an adequate legal service

    programme, suggested that there should be a Legal Aid Fund created by statute which would consist of moneys

    received from different sources such as donations from individuals, associations of merchants, traders or

    manufacturers, charitable organizations and Public Charitable Trusts. Tax exemption should be granted in

    respect of such' donations; organizing entertainment programme through social service organizations like the

    Rotary Club and the Lions Club and organizing a Rupee Drive; providing by statute that every vakalatnama

    should bear in addition to the usual Court fee stamp, Legal Aid Stamp of the denomination of Re. 1,

    contributions made by partially assisted persons; fees paid by applicant legal advice; grant made by the Central

    Government to State Government to meet expenses of providing legal service to members of Scheduled Caste

    and . Scheduled Tribes. Annual celebrations made by municipal corporations, municipalities, and many such

    sources.

    The report stated that we as a nation really want to eradicate poverty and establish a truly free, just and

    egalitarian society; the legal service programme recommended by the Committee should be implemented

    wholly and in its entirety. But recognizing the difficulties that the state government may face, it may not be

    possible for the State Government to implement the whole of the legal service programme immediately in one

    single stage. It was, therefore, suggested that the legal service programme may be implemented in stages

    according to a phased plan. The committee recommended that the state government may implement the legal

    service programme immediately in so far as it relates to the provisions of legal aid in civil cases and cases

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    before the administrative tribunals and also in regard to criminal cases other than committal proceedings and

    cases under the Bombay prohibition act, Bombay prevention of gambling act prevention of food adulteration act

    and suppression of immoral traffic in women and girls act. The provisions of legal aid in committal proceedings

    may be left over for the second stage and the provisions of legal aid in regard to offences under the enactment

    referred to above may be taken up at the final stage. The implementation of the preventive legal services

    programme should not be delayed. But if the state government thinks that it is not possible to implement the

    preventive service programme immediately, it may postpone implementation so far as the items of

    representation, legal research and innovation, institutional changes and organization of the poor are concerned.

    So far as the items of the legal service and education are concerned, there should be no delay in

    implementation.

    On 19 May, 1976, the government of India appointed a two member committee, known as Juridicare

    Committee, of justice P N Bhagwati as chairman and Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer as member.

    One of the purpose for setting up the committee was that the central government is of the view that an adequate

    and vigorous legal service program is necessary to be establish in all the states in the country on a uniform

    basis. The terms of reference of the Juridicare committee included making recommendations for the

    establishing and operating comprehensive and a dynamic legal service program for effective implementations of

    the socio economic measures taken or to be taken by the government including formulation of scheme (s) for

    legal services.

    It was suggested that the Advocate Act, 1961 be amended to recognize and permit provision of legal aid by law

    teachers and students. The report clearly stated that the funding of the legal aid programme was the state

    responsibility and for this identified sources such as court fees collected from the litigants, legal aid steps, levy

    of special cess, donations and many more for the purpose of funding the legal aid programme and so on.1

    1 www.causelists.nic.in/nalsa/33

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    The National Legal Services Authority

    Section 3(1) of Legal Services Authorities Act provides that the Central Government Shall constitute a body

    known as the National Legal Services Authority to exercise the powers to perform the functions conferred on or

    assigned to the Central Authority under this Act. Central Authority according to section 2(A) of this act means

    the NLSA constituted under Section 3.

    Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of this act further provides that the Central Authority shall consist of

    a. the Chief Justice of India who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;

    b. a serving or retired Judge of the S.C. to be nominated by the President, in consultation with the Chief

    Justice of India, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and

    c. such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed

    by the Central Government, to be nominated by that government in consultation with the Chief Justice

    of India.

    The Central Government shall in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, appoint a person to be the

    Member-Secretary of the Central Authority, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed

    by that Government, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the

    Central Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive

    Chairman of that Authority.

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    The administrative expenses of the Central Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable

    to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the Central Authority, shall be defrayed out of the

    Consolidated Fund of India.

    State Legal Services Authority:A State Authority shall consist of -

    (a) the Chief Justice of the H.C. who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;

    {b) a serving or retired Judge of the H.C., to be nominated by the Governor, in consultation with the Chief

    Justice of the H.C., who shall be the Executive Chairman; and

    (c) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the

    State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C., appoint a person belonging to

    the State Higher Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a District Judge, as the Member-Secretary of the

    State Authority, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the State

    Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of

    that Authority.

    The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and the Member Secretary of the Central

    Authority shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of

    India.

    The Central Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the

    Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions

    under this Act.

    The Officers and other employees of the Central Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances

    and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the Central Government in

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    consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

    The administrative expenses of the Central Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to

    the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the Central Authority, shall be defrayed out of the

    Consolidated Fund of India.

    All orders and decisions of the Central Authority shall be, authenticated by the Member-Secretary or any

    other officer of the Central Authority duly authorized by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

    No act or proceeding of the Central Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any

    vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the Central Authority.

    A person functioning as Secretary of a State Legal Aid & Advice Board immediately before the date of

    constitution of the State Authority may be appointed as Member-Secretary of that Authority, even if he is not

    qualified to be appointed as such under this sub-section, for a period not exceeding five years.

    Functions of the State Authority

    (1) It shall be the duty of the State Authority to give effect to the policy and directions of the Central Authority.

    (2) Without prejudice to the generality of the functions referred to in sub- section(1), the State Authority shall

    perform all or any of the following functions, namely -

    (a) to provide legal service to persons who satisfy the criteria laid down under this Act;

    (b) to conduct Lok Adalats, including Lok Adalats for H.C. cases

    (c) to undertake preventive and strategic legal aid programmes; and

    (d) to perform such other functions as the State Authority may, in consultation with the Central Authority,

    fix by regulations.

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    Supreme Court Legal Services Committee

    The Central Authority shall constitute a committee to be called the Supreme Court Legal Service Committee for

    the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made

    by the Central Authority.

    The Committee shall consist of -

    (a) a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court who shall be the Chairman; and

    (b) such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the

    Central Government, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India.

    The Chief Justice of India shall appoint a person to be the Secretary to the Committee, possessing

    such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

    The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of

    the Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

    The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other the Committee, possessing such

    experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

    The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of the

    Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

    The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other as may be prescribed by the

    Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions.

    The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and

    shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the Central Government in

    consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

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    Functions of the Central Authority

    The Central Authority shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely: -

    (a) lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act;

    (b) frame the most effective and economical schemes for the purpose of making legal services available

    under the provisions of this Act;

    (c) utilize the funds at its disposal and make appropriate allocations of funds to the State Authorities and

    District Authorities;

    (d) take necessary steps by way of social justice litigation with regard to consumer protection,

    environmental protection or any other matter of special concern to the weaker sections of the society and

    for this purpose, give training to social workers in legal skills;

    (e) organize legal aid camps, especially in rural area, slums or labour colonies with the dual propose of

    educating the weaker sections of the society as to their rights as well as encouraging the settlement of disputes

    through Lok Adalats.

    (f) encourage the settlement of disputes by way of negotiations, arbitration and conciliation;

    (g) undertake and promote research in the field of legal services with special reference to the need for such

    services among the poor;

    (h) to do all things necessary for the purpose of ensuring commitment to the fundamental duties of

    citizens under Part IVA of the Constitution;

    (i) monitor and evaluate implementation of the legal aid programmes at periodic intervals and provide for

    independent evaluation of programmes and schemes implemented in whole or in part by funds provided under

    this Act;

    (j) provide grants-in-aid for specific schemes to various voluntary social service institutions and the State and

    District Authorities, from out of the amounts placed at its disposal for the implementation of legal services

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    schemes under the provisions of this Act;

    (k) develop, in consultation with the Bar Council of India, programmes for clinical legal education and

    promote guidance and supervise the establishment and working of legal services clinics in universities, law

    colleges and other institutions;

    (l) take appropriate measures for spreading legal literacy and legal awareness amongst the people and, in

    particular, to educate weaker sections of the society about the rights, benefits and privileges guaranteed

    by social welfare legislations and other enactments as well as administrative programmes and measures;

    (m) make special efforts to enlist the support of voluntary social welfare institutions working at the grass-

    root level, particularly among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, women and rural and urban

    labour; and

    (n) coordinate and monitor the functioning of State Authorities, District Authorities, Supreme Court Legal

    Service Committee, High Committee Legal Services Committees, Taluk Legal Services Committees and

    voluntary social services institutions and other legal services organizations and give general directions for the

    proper implementation of the legal services programmes.

    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;

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    (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.50,000/- p.a. for legal aid before S.C. of India and to Rs.25,000/- p.a.

    for legal aid upto H.C.s; and

    (m) Steps for framing rules for refund of court fees and execution of Awards passed by Lok Adalats.

    HIGH COURT LEGAL SERVICE COMMITTEE:

    The State Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the High Court Legal Services Committee for

    every H.C., for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by

    regulations made by the State Authority.

    The Committee shall consist of -

    a) a sitting Judge of the H.C. who shall be the Chairman; and

    b) such number of other Members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be determined by

    regulations made by the State Authority, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the H.C.

    The Chief Justice of the H.C. shall appoint a Secretary to the Committee possessing such experience and

    qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government.

    The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of the

    Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

    The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the

    State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C. for the efficient discharge of its functions

    The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be

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    subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the

    Chief Justice of the H.C.

    District Legal Services Authority:

    A District Authority shall consist of :-

    a) the District Judge who shall be its Chairman; and

    b) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the

    State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The State Authority shall, in consultation with the Chairman of the District Authority, appoint a person

    belonging to the State Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a Subordinate Judge or Civil Judge

    posted at the seat of the District Judiciary as Secretary of the District Authority to exercise such powers and

    perform such duties under the Chairman of that Committee as may be assigned to him by such Chairman.

    The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and Secretary of the District Authority

    shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority in consultation with the

    Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The District Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the

    State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C. for the efficient discharge of its functions

    The officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances

    and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in

    consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The administrative expenses of every District Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions

    payable to the Secretary, officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be defrayed out of the

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    Consolidated Fund of the State.

    All orders and decisions of the District Authority shall be authenticated by the Secretary or by any other officer

    of the District Authority duly authorized by the Chairman of that Authority.

    No act or proceeding of a District Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any

    vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the District Authority.

    Functions of District Authority:

    The District Authority may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

    a. co-ordinate the activities of the Taluk Legal Services Committee and other legal services in the District;

    b. organize Lok Adalats within the Districts; and

    c. perform such other functions as the State Authority may fix by regulations .

    Taluk Legal Services Committee:

    The Committee shall consist of -

    a. the senior Civil Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who shall be the ex-officio

    Chairman; and

    b. such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the

    State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the

    State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C. for the efficient discharge of its functions

    The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be

    subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with

    Chief Justice of the H.C..

    The administrative expenses of the Committee shall be defrayed out of the District Legal Aid Fund by the

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    District Authority.

    Functions of Taluk Legal Services Committee:

    The Taluk Legal Services Committee may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

    a. co-ordinate the activities of legal services in the taluk;

    b. organize Lok Adalats within the taluk; and

    c. perform such other functions as the District Authority may assign to it.

    LOK ADALAT

    The Legal Services Authority Act makes provisions in relation to the establishment, powers and functions, etc.

    of the Lok Adalat. The preamble of the Act makes it clear that it has been enacted to contribute the Legal

    Services Authority to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure

    that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities

    and organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal

    opportunity. The Lok Adalats provide quick justice at less expense. The provisions of the Legal Authorities Act

    relating to the Lok Adalats along with the relevant rules made for this purpose may be stated and explained

    under the following headings.

    ORGANISATION OF LOK ADALATS

    Every State Authority or District Authority or the SCLSC or every HCLSC or, as the case may be, TLSC may

    organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it

    thinks fit.

    Every Lok Adalat organized for an area shall consist of such number of -

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    (a) serving or retired judicial officers; and

    (b) other persons, of the area, as may be specified by the State Authority or the District Authority or the

    SCLSC or the HCLSC, or as the case may be, the TLSC, organizing such Lok Adalats

    The experience and qualifications of other persons referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (2) for Lok Adalats

    organised by the SCLSC shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the

    Chief Justice of India.

    The experience and qualifications of other persons referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (2) for Lok Adalats

    other than referred to in sub-section (3) shall be such as may be prescribed by the State Government in

    consultation with the Chief Justice of the H.C..

    A Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the

    parties to a dispute in respect of -

    (i) any case pending before; or

    (ii) any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of and is not brought before, any court for which

    the Lok Adalat is organized:

    Provided that the Lok Adalat shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any case or matter relating to an

    offence not compoundable under any law.

    COGNIZANCE OF CASES BY LOK ADALATS

    Where in any case referred to in clause (i) of sub-section (5) of Section 19-

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    (i)(a) the parties thereof agree; or

    (b) one of the parties thereof makes an application to the court, for referring the case to the Lok Adalat

    for settlement and if such court is prima facie satisfied that there are chances of such settlement; or

    (ii) the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok

    Adalat,

    The court shall refer the case to the Lok Adalat:

    Provided that no case shall be referred to the Lok Adalat under sub-clause (b) of clause ( i) or clause (ii)

    by such court except after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties.

    Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Authority or Committee

    organizing the Lok Adalat under sub-section (1) of Section 19 may, on receipt of an application from any one of

    the parties to any matter referred to in clause (ii) of sub-section (5) of Section 19 that such matter needs to be

    determined by a Lok Adalat, refer such matter to the Lok Adalat, for determination:

    Provided that no matter shall be referred to the Lok Adalat except after giving a reasonable opportunity of being

    heard to the other party.

    Where any case is referred to a Lok Adalat under sub-section (1) or where a reference has been made to it

    under sub-section (2), the Lok Adalat shall proceed to dispose of the case or matter and arrive at a compromise

    or settlement between the parties.

    Every Lok Adalat shall, while determining any reference before it under this Act, act with utmost expedition to

    arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties and shall be guided by the principles of Justice, equity,

    fair play and other legal principles.

    Where no award is made by the Lok Adalat on the ground that no compromise or settlement could be arrived at

    between the parties, the record of the case shall be returned by it to the court, from which the reference has been

    received under sub-section (1) for disposal in accordance with law.

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    Where no award is made by the Lok Adalat on the ground that no compromise or settlement could be arrived at

    between the parties, in a matter referred to in sub-section (2), that Lok Adalat shall advise the parties to seek

    remedy in a court.

    Where the record of the case is returned under sub-section (5) to the court, such court shall proceed to deal with

    such case from the stage which was reached before such case from the stage which was reached before such

    reference under sub-section (1).

    AWARD OF LOK ADALAT

    Every award of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a decree of a civil court or, as the case may be, an order of

    any other court and where a compromise or settlement has been arrived at, by a Lok Adalat in a case referred to

    it under sub-section (1) of Section 20, the court-fee paid in such case shall be refunded in the manner provided

    under the Court Fees Act, 1870 (7 of 1870).

    Every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no appeal

    shall lie to any court against the award.

    POWERS OF LOK ADALAT OR PERMANENT LOK ADALAT

    The Lok Adalat or Permanent Lok Adalat shall, for the purposes of holding any determination under this Act,

    have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), while

    trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:-

    (a) the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any witness and examining him on oath;

    (b) the discovery and production of any document;

    (c) the reception of evidence on affidavits;

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    (d) the requisitioning of any public record or document or copy of such record or document from any

    court or office; and

    (e) such other matters as may be prescribed.

    Without prejudice to the generality of the powers contained in sub-section (1), every Lok Adalat or Permanent

    Lok Adalat shall have the requisite powers to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute

    coming before it.

    All proceedings before a Lok Adalat or Permanent Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings

    within the meaning of Sections 193, 219 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) and every Lok Adalat

    or Permanent Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purpose of Section 195 and Chapter XXVI

    of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

    Lok Adalats which are voluntary agencies are monitored by the State Legal Aid and Advice Boards. They have

    proved to be a successful alternative forum for resolving of disputes through the conciliatory method.

    The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 provides statutory status to the legal aid movement and it also

    provides for setting up of Legal Services Authorities at the Central, State and District levels. These authorities

    will have their own funds. Further, Lok Adalats which are at present informal agencies will acquire statutory

    status. Every award of Lok Adalats shall be deemed to be a decree of a civil court or order of a Tribunal and

    shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute. It also provides that in respect of cases decided at a Lok

    Adalat, the court fee paid by the parties will be refunded.

    SUPREME COURT ON LEGAL AID

    The linkage between Article 21 and the right to free legal aid was forged in the decision in Hussainara

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    Khatoon v. State of Bihar1 where the court was appalled at the plight of thousands of under trials languishing

    in the jails in Bihar for years on end without ever being represented by a lawyer. The court declared that "there

    can be no doubt that speedy trial, and by speedy trial, we mean reasonably expeditious trial, is an integral and

    essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21." The court pointed out that

    Article 39-A emphasised 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. In his inimitable

    style Justice Bhagwati declared:

    "Legal aid is really nothing else but equal justice in action. Legal aid is in fact the delivery system of social

    justice. If free legal services are not provided to such an accused, the trial itself may run the risk of being

    vitiated as contravening Article21 and we have no doubt that every State Government would try to avoid such a

    possible eventuality".

    Further in the case ofHussainara Khatoon & Ors. (V) v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, Patna Justice

    Bhagwati held that: "its the constitutional right of every accused person who is unable to engage a lawyer and

    secure legal services on account of reasons such as poverty, indigence or incommunicado situation, to have free

    legal services provided to him by the State and the State is under a constitutional mandate to provide a free

    lawyer to such accused person if the needs of justice so require. If free legal services are not provided to such an

    accused, the trial itself may run the risk of being vitiated as contravening Article 21 and it is hoped that every

    State Government would try to avoid such a possible eventuality."

    Two years thereaft