NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY ( Article 39A )
NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY
Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all. Articles 14 and 22(1) of theConstitution also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and alegal system which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity to all. In the year1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the Parliament which cameinto force on 9th November, 1995 to establish a nationwide uniform network for providingfree and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society on the basis of equal opportunity.
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to monitor and evaluate implementation of legal aid programmes and to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the Act. In every State, a State Legal Services Authority and in every High Court, a HighCourt Legal Services Committee have been constituted. District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees have been constituted in the Districts and most of the Taluks to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to provide free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted to administer and implement the legal services programme in so far as it relates to the Supreme Court of India.
Functioning of NALSA
NALSA lays down policies, principles, guidelines and frames effective andeconomical schemes for the State Legal Services Authorities to implement the Legal Services Programmes throughout the country. Primarily, the State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees, etc. have been asked to discharge the following main functions on regular basis:-
I. To Provide Free and Competent Legal Services to the eligible persons;
II. To organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes and
III. To organize legal awareness camps in the rural areas.
I. FREE LEGAL SERVICES
The Free Legal Services include:-
a) Payment of court fee, process fees and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings;
b) Providing service of lawyers in legal proceedings;
c) Obtaining and supply of certified copies of orders and other documents in legal proceedings.
d) Preparation of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings. Persons eligible for getting free legal services include:
i)Women and children;
ii) Members of SC/ST
iii) Industrial workmen
iv) Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster.
v) Disabled persons.
vi) Persons in custody
vii) Persons whose annual income does not exceed Rs. 1 lakh (in theSupreme Court Legal Services Committee the limit is Rs. 5,00,000/-).
viii) Victims of Trafficking in Human beings or begarFrom April, 2015 to December, 2018, total no. of 28.58 Lakh eligible personsincluding women, children, persons in custody, persons belonging to SC/ST andbackward categories have been benefitted through various free legal servicesauthorities, viz.SLSAs/DLSAsITLSc/Legal Aid ClinicsNillage Legal Care and SupportCentres.
II. LOK ADALATS
Lok Adalat is one of the Alternative Disputes Resolution Mechanisms. It is aforum where the disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage aresettled/compromised amicably. The Lok Adalat has been given statutory status underthe Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under this Act, an award made by a LokAdalat is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all partiesand no appeal lies against thereto before any court. -
(a) Lok Adalats are being organized by the Legal Services Authorities/Committeesfor settlement of cases pending before courts u/s 19 of the Legal Services AuthoritiesAct, 1987 and also for matters at pre-Litigative stage, under the guidance of NALSA.
(b) Chapter VI-A has been inserted in the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 in theyear 2002, with a view to provide compulsory pre-Litigative mechanism for conciliationand settlement of disputes relating to 'Public Utility Services'.During the period 01.04.2015 to 31.12.2018,1,79,97,259 and 3.96 Lakh cases hasbeen disposed of by Regular Lok Adalat and Permanent Lok Adalat respectively.Moreover, 4,42,88,595 cases has been disposed of by National Lok Adalat during 20152018.
LEGAL AWARENESS PROGRAMMES
As a part of the preventive and strategic legal aid, NALSA through the StateLegal Services Authorities, conduct legal literacy programmes. In some States, LegalLiteracy Programmes are conducted every year in schools and colleges and also forempowerment of women in a routine manner, besides the rural legal literacy camps.During the period 01.04.2015 to 31.12.2018, 5.35 Lakh Legal Awareness Campswere organized.