Access to justice is the right of an individual to access courts and avail legal representation along with seeking the necessary remedy for the infringement of his rights, irrespective of religion, race, sex, caste, creed, economic status, or whether he is an accused or a felon. It includes legal aid, legal awareness, enforcement by law and its protection. No access to justice not only goes against natural justice but also leads to a questionable legal system.
Access to justice is more difficult for the marginalized section of the society due to mainly two reasons
- Lack of Legal Awareness
- Long and complex court proceedings.
Access to justice is protected by
- Article 21(Right to life and personal liberty)
- Article 14 (Right to Equality)
- Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination based on caste, creed, religion, sex, race)
- Under provisions of the CrPc which deal with a fair trial and free legal aid, legal representation and speedy trial.
In the case of Tehsildar Singh V. State of MP and Anrs. the Petitioner was being tried for the offences mentioned under Section 294, 307 and 334 of the Indian Penal Code. The petitioner filed an application stating that he being financially weak could not afford for a defence counsel and requested the appointment of Advocate J P Srivastava at the state expense.
The trial court had partly agreed to his request by appointing Advocate A.K Jain for his defence at the state expense. It was contended that it was violative of Article 22(1) of the constitution and Section 303 of CrPC which states ‘ Any person accused of an offence before a Criminal Court, or against whom proceedings are instituted under this Code, may right be defended by a pleader of his choice.’
The trial court had rejected the part request on the grounds that the Advocate chosen by him was appointed in a different case at state expense. It also stated, if the accused is not in a position to engage the services of a particular lawyer, then the court will decide which lawyer is to be appointed as the Defense lawyer at state expenses.
The decision of the trial court was overruled and it was stated by the court that if the choice of the accused has not adhered to it will be a miscarriage of justice and the decision will be infected with vices.