Legal aid is giving welfare rights, social help, economically etc. Legal aid is giving assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation. It gives right of equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial. Legal aid mostly represented by Lawyers, Community legal clinics. It is mostly helpful for the citizen who don’t have sufficient financial means to fight for Equal rights or to get justice in their favour.
Jurists such as Mauro Cappelletti argue that legal aid is essential in providing individuals with access to justice, by allowing the individual legal enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights.
WHAT IS LEGAL AID?
Under Section 2(1)(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987
“Legal Service” includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter; To provide free and competent legal services to the weaker section of the society was the basic object of enacting the aforesaid Act. Justice – social, economic and political, is our constitutional pledge enshrined in the preamble of our Constitution.
Legal aid is required in many forms and at various stages, for obtaining guidance, for resolving disputes in Courts, tribunals or other authorities.
HOW LEGAL AID WORKS?
“Poor man’s laws” waived court fees for the poor and provided for the appointment of duty solicitors for those who could not afford to pay for a solicitor.
Criteria for giving legal service are prescribed under the Section 12 of the said Act. Every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if that person is –
- A member of a Scheduled Caste of Scheduled Tribe
- A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution
- A women or a child;
- A person with disability as defined in Clause (i) of Section 2 of the person with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation)’; Act, 1995
- A person under circumstances to the undeserved want such as being a victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster;
- An industrial workman; or in custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act, 1956 (104 of 1956), or in a juvenile home within the meaning of clause (j) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986), or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987 (14 of 1987); or in receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be [prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
It has been stated in the Provision that person suffering from economic or other disabilities would be deprived of the opportunity for securing justice.
In the civil side, Order XXXIII. R.18 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 provided that the state and central governments may make supplementary provisions as it thinks fit for providing free legal services to those who have been permitted to sue as an indigent person. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 made drastic changes in the field of legal services.
WHEN LEGAL SERVICES BE REJECTED?
A legal service be rejected if the applicant.
- If one has adequate means to access justice;
- Does not fulfil the eligibility criteria;
- Has no merit in his application requiring legal action.
PROVISIONS RELATED TO LEGAL AID
Article 21 Protection of life and Personal liberty – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Section 39-A 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”.
Moni Mathai v. Federal Bank Ltd., [AIR 2003 Ker 164 at 170] by the Kerala High Court,
The Lok Adalats are bound to follow the principles of natural justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles. Had the Committee taken care to issue notice to the petitioners and obtain a written statement containing their version and placed the same before the Lok Adalat all these unfortunate disputes could have been avoided. The Lok Adalats shall also not forget that their duty is not to dispose of cases somehow but settle cases amicably.
IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL AID
Law is useless, a futile exercise of legislative power, unless The machinery of justice must, therefore, be readily accessible to all equally irrespective of their social, economic, geographical, and biological or any other types of differences.Without legal aid, equality before law, an integral part of the rule of law, cannot be achieved.
Legal aid as a part of Administration of Justice, is of much importance for the developing and developed societies alike, however, for the former its importance is much more because it is to act as a catalyst for achieving the standards of social and economic development.
It became very necessary to aid people who are economically weaker section in the area of law. In economically weaker section, most of the people are illiterate or poor to go through the court process.Hence, it becomes the responsibilities of Lawyer, legal clinics to provide and do such deed to help the poor.