The concept of seeking justice cannot be equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice.
-Justice Blackmun in Jackson v Bish
Legal aid mainly means providing free legal services to the poor and the needy people who are not able to afford an advocate for their case, or a legal proceeding in any court or, tribunal or before a judicial authority. Legal aid was mainly introduced for the very first time by the Justice P.N. Bhagwati under the legal aid committee formed in 1971. According to the justice Bhagwati, legal aid means providing the legal aid to those people who are not able to afford so that they can also get justice and he also wanted to make it easily available to the poor section of the societies. Legal is available to anybody on the road.
The legal service authorities act (1987) has established a nationwide network to provide free and competent legal aid to the poor and also to organise Lok Adalats for promoting equal justice. Lok Adalat is a statutory forum for conciliatory settlement of legal disputes. It has been given the status of a civil court. Its awards are enforceable, binding on the parties and final as no appeal lies before any court against them. There are many provisions under Indian constitution as well as many other acts in which certain laws have been made to provide legal aid to the needy or poor people
There are many other services which are offered by legal service authority in our country. They are as follows-
- The payment of court fees and other fees are paid by them;
- All the charges are also paid by them which have been incurred in preparing, drafting and filing of any legal proceedings;
- All the charges which the legal practitioner or the legal advisor are also paid by them;
- All the cost of paperwork, including printing, translation etc
The legal service authorities act, 1987 defines legal service under Section 2(1)(c) that ‘legal service’ includes the interpretation of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceedings before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any other legal matter. This act was mainly made with an objective to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker section of the society.
PROVISIONS IN INDIAN LAW WHICH GIVE YOU RIGHT TO LEGAL AID ARE AS FOLLOWS-.
- Article 14 of the Indian constitution states the equality before the law so all are equal before the law without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour, sex etc. The preamble of the Constitution secures to its citizen, social, economic and political justice. Article 14 of the Constitution makes it clear that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. The aim of Article 14 is to ensure equal justice. The guarantee of equal justice is meaningless if the poor or illiterate or weak persons cannot enforce their rights because of their poverty or illiteracy or weakness.
- The constitution of India also provides under article 21 of the fundamental rights including protection of life and liberty and provisions of legal aid are an integral part of this section
- Article 39A of the Indian constitution also states that there should be equal justice and free legal aid. This explains that whether the person is rich or poor equal treatment should be given whether it is the case of justice.
- Section 303 of the code of civil procedure, states that the accused in any case is entitled to have the right to be defended by the pleader of his own choice and section 304 of the CPC states that if such kind of person doesn't have sufficient means to arrange a pleader for himself then he shall be provided with free legal aid at the expense of the state.
- Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 by which every state has been charged with a duty to ensure to an accused 'A fair and Public Hearing.
- Article22 (1) of the Constitution of India declare that no person who is arrested shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
- Order 33 of the Civil Procedure Code provides in respect of the suit by an indigent person. On the application to sue as an indigent person is being granted the plaintiff shall not be liable to pay court fee and in case he is not represented by a pleader, the Court may, if the circumstances of the case so require, assign a pleader to him. This benefit has now been extended to the dependant also.
- A separate legislation, The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 has been enacted to constitute the Legal Service Authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities and to organise Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice. The Legal Services Authorities Act establishes statutory legal services authorities at the National, State and District level. It makes provisions in relation to Lok Adalat. The main object of the Lok Adalat is to provide quick justice at less expense