The concept of legal aid is to provide free legal services to the vulnerable communities in the society to conduct any legal proceedings in the court, tribunal or before a judicial authority. The core of this conception is that no one should deny justice because of their financial instability. This system is contributed majorly by Late Justice P.N.Bhagwathi. 14th report of the Law Commission of India put forward the idea of providing free legal services to the poor by the state. During the 42nd amendment in 1976, Article 39A under directive principles of state policy, was added to the Indian Constitution. Article 39A of Indian Constitution provides free legal aid to the weaker sections of the society and provides justice for all.
Article 14 and Article 22(1) of the constitution which describes equality before law and equal opportunity for law is also prescribed here. Since Article 39A is under directive principles of state policy, this cannot be enforced in the court. On 9 November 1987, Legal Services Authority Act was enacted by the Indian parliament to enforce the provisions of the article 39A of the constitution. Every year on 9 November is celebrated as National Legal Services day in India.
Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987
Section 3 of this act states the constitution of National Legal Services Authority. National Legal Services Authority was formed on 5 December 1995 under Legal Services Authority Act 1987. Honourable Justice A.S Anand, judge, Supreme Court of India, took over as the executive chairperson on 17 July, 1997. Currently Justice Uday Umesh Lalit is the executive chairperson and Honourable Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice N.V Ramana is the patron-in-chief of NALSA.
Section 6 states the constitution of State Legal Services Authority. In every state, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted and Honourable Chief Justice of the respective High Court shall be patron-in-chief, a serving or retired High Court judge shall be the Executive chairman.
Section 9 states the constitution of District Legal Services Authority. In every district, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted and headed by district judge of respective district courts.
Section 11A and 11B of Legal Services Act deals with Taluk legal services authority, for each taluk, to coordinate legal services in the taluk and to organise lok adalats. Senior most judicial officer shall be the ex-officio chairman.
Section 12 states the criteria for giving legal services. Member of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, a victim of human trafficking, a women or a child, persons with disabilities, victim of disasters, industrial workmen, in custody, people with annual income of 9000 or 12000 or higher amount prescribed by state governments and central governments respectively are entitled to the free legal services provided by the country.
Lok adalat is a kind of alternate dispute resolution mechanism. The pending cases in the courts are settled amicably. Section 19 defines the organisation of lok adalats. Serving or retired judge officers and other persons organised by Supreme Court Legal Services committee or Chief Justice of High Court shall address the issues.
Section 20 states the cases in which parties can refer to lok adalats. When there is consent from both of the parties, or consent from one of the parties, and when the court refers the case to the lok adalats.
Section 21 states the award for lok adalats that every award made by the lok adalat should be final and no appeal shall lay against the ward to any court.
Legal services authority has been the bedrock of justice for centuries. They aid in providing equal justice for people irrespective of their financial ability. But the negative use of legal services may lead to misuse the law to protect the underprivileged in the first place.
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.
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