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Free Legal Aid

Legal Services - meaning

  • Free legal aid is provided to ensure that opportunities for justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
  • Legal services includes rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceedings before any court and giving of advice on any legal matter.

Entitlement for Giving Free Legal Services

A person shall be entitled to Free Legal Aid, Legal Advice or free Legal Services if that person is:

  • A member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe
  • A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar
  • Woman or a child
  • A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
  • Victim of mass disaster ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster;
  • An Industrial workman
  • Person in custody

Availing of Legal Services

  • Legal aid can be provided to a person for a case which includes a suit or any proceeding before a court.
  • Person to whom legal aid is provided is not required to pay anything on the litigation. Legal services to be provided may include anyone or more of the following:
    • Payment of court-fees, process fees and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings;
    • Charges for drafting, preparing and filling of any legal proceedings arid representation by a legal practitioner in legal proceedings;
    • Cost of obtaining and supply of certified cop les of judgments, order and other documents in legal proceedings;
    • Cost of preparation of paper book (including paper, printing and translation of documents) in legal proceedings and expenses incidental thereto.
  • In every State and District Legal Services Authorities have been established
  • Taluka or mandal legal services committees have been constituted at the Taluk/mandal.
  • The National Legal Services Authority is the Central Authority which implements the various schemes such as lok adallats for disposing of pending matters, legal literacy and awareness campaigns, legal aid facilities in jails etc.
  • For availing legal services one is required to approach the High Court or the District Courts which have constituted Legal Services Authorities for providing legal services.

Important Judicial Pronouncements

  • A.M.Hoskot V. State of Maharashtra AlR 1978 SC 1548
  • Hussainara Khatoon V. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, AIR 1979 SC 1322

Article 39-A of the Constitution provides for equal justice and free legal aid. On several occasions, like in the cases mentioned above, it has been held by the Supreme Court that legal aid and speedy trial are to treated as a part of the fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. It is enforceable by the Courts and the State is under a duty to provide legal aid and legal assistance to a poor and needy person at its own expense.

Source: National Commission for Women



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