AN OVERVIEW OF LEGAL AID AND ADVICE (AMENDMENT) ACT 2015

INTRODUCTION

It is an all-inclusive concept that everyone should have the right to get an opportunity in every sense like to right to free legal aid, the right to education, etc. Equality is the term that certifies that every individual should have equal opportunities and fair chances to succeed, and live without any cumbered. Equality is the basic pillar of our republic country for the development of the country and stability in the country.  The right to equality is enshrined in our constitution under Article 14[1]which guarantees to all the person equality before the law and equal protection of the laws. With the right of equality, people will be able to everyone should be treated equally in the eye of the law and on background, gender castes, and race basis.  Equal opportunity here is the idea that people ought able to compete with one another on equal terms and conditions. like everyone should get fair chances to compete.

What is the Concept of Legal Aid?

Legal aid and advice initiatives are taken by the government for the development and welfare of the people and these services provide justice to the needy and the people who live in poverty through it could lead to development in the nation and increase confidence in the laws.[2]

The parliament of India incorporated Article 39-A under the 42 amendments in the constitution in 1976 for the welfare and justice of citizens. With the enactment of Article 39 -A the states ensure can the citizen the justice of equal opportunity based on their need and requirements. The state can’t deny any citizen free legal aid based on their standard and any kind of disabilities and can’t discriminate based on their background and religion. By doing this the system is supporting poor people and the weaker section of society who can’t afford it. Legal aid is a constitutional right that is supported by Article 21 and Article 39-A of the constitution of India. Article 21 of the Constitution of India states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. Hence ensuring legal aid to everyone is necessary for ensuring substantive equality.[3] Under Article 14 and 22(1) the constitution has provided that the state has to make it obligatory to ensure equality before the law and the legal system which promote justice based on equal opportunity for every citizen.

Need of this Act

The Constitutional provision was implemented for the legal aid services for the people who came from weaker sections of society and poor people[4]. India is a country where most of the population is poor and living on the poverty line and cannot afford the services themselves. Most of the masses are even not aware of their rights and even if they know they cannot afford high-priced services by themselves. So, legal aid is very important for the protection of the poor and weak and for the existence of rule of law in society in an orderly manner. If the illiterate poor person is not able to legally assist a lawyer for himself then the government system has to provide with if he is denied inequality in opportunity to strive for justice. So, for that, the Judiciary of the country has initiated a scheme in providing legal aid services to the needy and poor people as a whole society, not on their financial status. The National Legal Service Authority (NALSA)[5] which was constituted under the legal services authority act of 1987, renders free legal services to the poor and needy people who can’t afford them and organizes Lok Adalat’s for Civil settlement of disputes.

Purpose of this Provision

Render legal aid services to the poor and illiterate people, weaker section of society who cannot afford could get surety justice based on equal opportunity for everyone as a whole in the society.[6] Through the enactment of Article 39A, people get to know about their constitutional and legal right to get free legal aid and services from the government and the responsibility of the government to ensure free legal services and speedy justice to its citizen. Compensation to victimize citizens who suffered a lot due to unawareness of their basic rights to get legal aid in their needs and requirement, which was the duty of the government to provide with the services have to compensate. Reinforce the use of other dispute settlements such as ADR which includes mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation through which the parties comprise with themselves as per the mediator’s reasoned. Organized Lok Adalat’s also led to the success of free legal aid services in the country, people lately started awareness about their basic right to get legal services and have the right to seek justice by the current system of the Act.

Conclusion

India is a diverse country whose primary objective should be to hold people together that the legal system should work as per the need of the citizen to maintain peace and harmony in the country which will lead to increased confidence in law and strengthen democracy to administrate justice.[7]The government must initiate a scheme to communicate the legal knowledge and basic rights of the poor and illiterate people to bring legal awareness. So, that the citizens can approach as per their needs. The way of providing legal services should not be narrow, it should work on a wider scale to achieve a higher level and use properly like ADR and Lok Adalat to speed their process of work and resolve disputes. The central and state legal services authority should be provided with the fund by their respective level of government that no one should leave behind and deny their basic legal right to ensure justice. Who are eligible for getting free legal aid services? Section 12 of the National Legal Services Authority Act (NALSA),1987 prescribed criteria for the free legal services as follows:[8]

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 beggar
(c) a woman and child
(d) a mentally ill or otherwise disabled person
(e) a person under undeserved circumstances want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake, or industrial disaster
(f) an industrial workman.

It’s the responsibility of the system to encourage peace and equality as a whole ensure development of people by providing the access to justice with equal opportunity to all. Justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done as has been laid down by Lord Hewart[9]

Author(s) Name: Pallavi Kumari (Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, GGSIPU University, Delhi)

Reference(s):

[1] https://iitr.ac.in/internalcomplaintscommittee/annexure.pdf accessed on 16 June 2022

[2] Nishita Kirty, “Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid”, (International Journal of Law Management and Humanities), https://www.ijlmh.com/paper/equal-justice-and-free-legal-aid/ accessed on 16June 2022

[3] “Free legal aid is crucial right granted by Constitution; SCs, STs, women among categories of people eligible for provision”,(First post ,22July2019), https://www.firstpost.com/india/free-legal-aid-is-crucial-right-granted-by-constitution-scs-sts-women-among-categories-of-people-eligible-for-provision-7034801.html#:~:text=Article%2021%20of%20the%20Constitution,necessary%20for%20ensuring%20substantive%20equality ,accessed on 16 June 2022

[4] Ms. Silky Mukherjee, “Constitutional Provision For Legal Aid  in India”, ( Probono.India), https://www.probono-india.in/Indian-Society/Paper/35_CONSTITUTIONAL%20PROVISIONS%20FOR%20LEGAL%20AID%20-%20Silky%20Mukherjee.pdf accessed on 17 June 2022

[5] https://nalsa.gov.in/ accessed on 18 June 2022

[6] U. Sarathchandran, “Bringing legal aid a step closer home”, (The Hindu,9Novemenber,2011), https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/bringing-legal-aid-a-step-closer-home/article2609718.ece  accessed on 18 June 2022

[7]Absence of legal awareness root cause of rights’ deprivation: CJI Gogoi ,( The Indian Express, 18 August 2019),https://indianexpress.com/article/india/absence-of-legal-awareness-root-cause-of-rights-deprivation-cji-ranjan-gogoi-5915247/ accessed on 19 June 2022

[8] https://doj.gov.in/national-legal-services-authority-nalsa/ accessed on 19 June 2022

[9] Arvind Datar , “The origins of Justice must be seen to be done”, (Bar and Bench, 18 April 2020), https://www.barandbench.com/columns/poetic-justice-when-judges-referred-to-literary-works-and-famous-quotes-in-their-verdicts accessed on 19 June 2022

error: Content is protected !!