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Article 39A: Equal Justice And Free Legal Aid

The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

India is a country where poverty and illiteracy are big issues. This is a big hurdle in access to justice.

Many people are not aware of their legal rights, sometimes they may know their rights but due to their vulnerable position, they can't approach a court of law.

Legal aid is an instrument to access justice for all. Legal aid is being provided to illiterate, ignorant and poor people.

It is a method adopted to ensure that no one can be deprived of legal assistance due to a lack of funds.

Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

On the basis of Article 39A, The Legal Services Authority Act was enacted by the parliament. The word used in this Act "services" itself indicates that it is not a mere voluntary help, but it is an obligation of the States to provide legal services to the poor, illiterate and ignorant person.

Income Limit:
Any person with an annual income less than Rs 5,00,000/- in respect of a case filed before the Supreme Court will be entitled to legal services.

In Tamilnadu, the income limit for the availability of legal services is Rs 3,00,000/-.

Authorities Established Under the Legal Services Authorities Act

  • National Legal Services Authority
  • State Legal Services Authority
  • District Legal Services Authority
  • Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
  • High Court Legal Services Committee
  • Taluk Legal Services Committee

How Do You Apply?
A person can approach the concerned Authority through a written application stating reasons for seeking legal aid.

He can also apply online by filling out a legal aid application form available at the concerned websites of the legal services authorities like NALSA, SLSA, DLSA, SCLSC, HCLSC, TLSC etc

Legal Services Schemes:
Various Schemes available under the national legal services authority

  • Legal services for differently-abled children scheme, 2021
  • NALSA (legal services to senior citizens) scheme, 2016
  • NALSA (legal services to victims of acid attacks) scheme, 2016

Scheme for legal services to disaster victims through legal services authorities.

  • NALSA (victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation) scheme, 2015
  • NALSA (Legal services to workers in the unorganized sector) scheme, 2015
  • NALSA (Legal Services for mentally ill and mentally disabled persons) scheme, 2015
  • NALSA (child-friendly legal services for children and their protection) scheme, 2015
  • NALSA (protection and enforcement of tribal rights) scheme, 2015
  • NALSA (legal services to victims of drug abuse and eradication of drug menace) scheme, 2015

An Advocate has to provide legal services to indigent and poor people. It is the highest obligation an advocate owes to society.

The Legal Services Authority Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament. It is a very useful instrument to achieve the goal of social justice as enshrined in the preamble of the Indian constitution.

It is also a lawyer's duty to render free legal service to the indigent person. Justice must not only be done but it seems to be done.

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