Legal Framework: Legal Service Authority Act, 1987
Authored by Sulakshana Pawar
Keywords: Legal aid- poor people- protection- government protection- justice- Legal Service Act.
In developing countries like India, legal aid for needy and poor people is rising day by day. Since it is difficult to enable rights state government takes the necessary steps to protect such people. Delay in cases is also seen which lacks justice for the poor people in the country. Hence, the Legal Service Act was introduced which came into force 9th November 1995.
Legal Service Authority Act was constituted to provide legal services free of cost to the needy people of weaker sections. The Act ensures that people from weaker section gets justice and are not ignored because of their economic crises or other disabilities. Hence, it promotes justice and gives equal opportunity to all the people from the country. In India, the National Legal Service Authority and State Legal Service Authority can be seen to look after the respective areas accordingly.
Object and Importance:
This act has been enacted to provide help to the poor and the needy section of the society and provide them justice. It promotes justice and equal opportunities. They may also provide advice on legal matters by providing them advocates at the State expenses. At times, court fees and other such payments are also done for the people who are eligible for legal aid. Other such litigation expenses are also taken into consideration such as expenses summoning witnesses, expenses of documents, etc.
· Article 39A of the constitution imposes on the state to provide legislative schemes, equal opportunities, and other free legal aid which is part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution.
Entitlement to the Legal Service Authority Act:
A person who needs legal aid shall apply the application to the Secretary of State Authority. It must be signed by the applicant and if the person is illiterate then in such case thumb impression is also taken into consideration.
Thus, the name of the person receiving the benefit of Legal aid is entered in Register. In case, if the application is denied then the reasons for rejecting the application are recorded in writing.
Form of the Affidavit:
The affidavit must contain the name of the person, his occupation, his place of residence, and his necessary description. It also must contain verification at the end of the application. The verification is to test the genuineness and authenticity but if it lacks the proper verification then it shouldn’t be accepted.
Refusal to grant Legal Aid Services :
· If it contains contempt of court or proceedings
· If such proceedings are somehow related to the elections
· When proceedings are under Immoral Traffic Act 1956
· Proceedings which falls under Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
· When a person is accused of an offense under Schedule castes and Schedule Tribes.
· If defamation or malicious prosecution is seen.
Thus, all the reasons for denying the application are recorded in writing, and approval of the Chairman is obtained for denial under the rules prescribed.
The National Legal Service Authority Act :
This Act provides for setting up of statutory legal service authorities at National, State, and District levels to provide proper monitoring and free legal aid programmes. The Central Government shall constitute Central Authority called as National Service Authority which consists of twelve members and is nominated by Central Government by consulting with Chief Justice of India.
The State Legal Service Authority Act :
Every State Government shall constitute State Authority called as State Service Authority which performs the functions and exercise the powers assigned to State Authority under this Act.
Composition of the National Legal Service Authority and State Legal Service Authority:
· The Chief Justice of India who is also Patron in chief.
· A retired judge of Supreme court, who is also an Executive Chairman.
· Other members qualifying as per prescribed by the Central government and State government after consulting the Chief Justice of India.
They shall also have ex-officio members which include:
· Department of Legal Affairs, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Justice and Company Affairs
· Department of Expenditure in the Ministry of Finance or any of his nominee
· Two chairman of State and District Legal Service Authorities nominated by the government by consulting with Chief Justice of India
Qualification of Members:
· The person should be in the field of law.
· The person should have some interest in Legal service schemes, social work, uplift the poor and weaker sections and work for the people of Schedule casts and Schedule tribes and women, children and for labours.
The term of the office and other such requirements are prescribed by respective people of Government by consulting Chief Justice of India
Powers and Functions:
· To lay down the provisions and policies available under the provision of this act
· To frame the economic schemes and make it available under the schemes of legal provision act
· To take necessary steps that are essential in Consumer protection, social justice litigation, environmental protection.
· To organize legal aid camps in rural areas for labours and weaker sectionsfor purpose of educating them and encouraging them to settle their disputes in Lok Adalat
· Encourage to settle disputes through arbitration, conciliation and negotiation.
· To ensure all the necessary commitments relating to fundamental duties are solved.
· To monitor and implement legal aid programmes after a certain periodic period and provide schemes and implement them.
· To develop legal education, promote it and supervise the establishment and working in Universities, Law colleges and other educational institutions.
· To take appropriate measures for spreading legal awareness and legal literacy and to make sure that benefits are enacted by social welfare legislations.
· To make special efforts for volunteering social welfare programmes.
· To co-ordinate with State Authorities, District Authorities, Supreme Court, High Court, Taluka Legal Service Committees and give proper implementation and direction for legal service programmes.
The Act provides for setting up statutory legal authorities at National, District and State level to monitor the legal aid programmes. It also highlights funding using a grant by the National and State government respectively.
It also enlights on the principle of justice, equity and good conscience in their proceedings while settling the disputes. Thus, legal aid facilities are provided for weaker sections to enjoy their rights and liberties.