India is a country with mass population. A large number of people in India comprises of below poverty and illiterates. Majority of citizens are not aware of the legal system prevailing in the country. Those people who are aware of it cannot avail their legal Constitutional rights because of their social and economic backwardness. Legal aid to the poor is important for the preservation of rule of law and which is necessary for the existence of the regulated society. This is not a modern or recent concept and is a reflection of the primordial principle of Roman Law maxim “ubi jus ibi remedium” which means ‘where there is a right, there is a remedy.’ The right to a remedy is one of the fundamental rights recognized in all legal systems and which affirms the obligation of the state to provide free legal aid and assistance to the poor, underprivileged and unlettered.
Legal aid is said to be a constitutional right braced by Article 21 and Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution. Here the main objective is to provide access to justice to be made available to the weaker section of the society. The term “access to Justice” is a basic human right conferred by the common law and it signifies the liberty to move towards remedy. Legal awareness is also known as Public Legal Education which empowers individuals regarding issues relating with law.
9th November every year is celebrated as ‘Legal Service Day’ across all Indian states authorities by organizing legal aid literacy camps and programs. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) under the insightful leadership of Chief Justice of India and patron-in-Chief, NALSA, Justice N.V. Ramanna and executive Chairman Justice U.U. Lalit conceptualized a pan-India Awareness and free legal aid to people from 2nd of October to 14th of November. This awareness campaign also forms a part of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” – an initiative taken by the government of India to celebrate 75 years of progressive India. It was a distinctive initiative taken by the government to reduce the backlog in Indian courts along with providing access to justice for low income litigant. Legal Aid is basically provided to people who come from a poor and destitute backgrounds and are not fortunate enough to be learned. These are the people who cannot afford paying the advocates fees, court fees and other miscellaneous legal charges. Legal aid is a remedy for such people to be able to approach court, get heard, and demand justice. The common people who have no idea about their rights which are granted to them by our constitution are taught about legal aid facilities through this campaign. These people are given an access to Lok Adalats which is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, where cases or disputes pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled amicably. There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat.
The Legal Services Authorities Act provides free legal aid to an individual if any of the following criteria are met:
- They are a member of either Scheduled Tribe or Scheduled Caste.
- They have been a victim of human trafficking or a beggar.
- An industrial workman.
- They are a child, woman, specially-abled or mentally challenged.
- They have an annual income of less than 9000 rupees or any such amount laid by the government.
- A victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, natural or industrial disaster.
- In custody, juvenile home or protective custody or in a psychiatric nursing home or hospital.
The NALSA will provide the person with counsel at the expense of the State and will bear the costs of filing or defending the case.
People can appeal the concerned authority for their case by filling the forms offline or online, through written application, or even making the case for free legal aid orally. And India being a country with a large population, no matter of illiteracy, needs to be aware of the basic laws of the country. Awareness of the legal aid system and its schemes should be known to them. Legal Aid Awareness program is a great initiative taken by the government of India for the welfare of the people and it is the duty of the legal professionals to educate the general public about this campaign.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.
If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge