Right to Legal Aid and Access To Justice

Right to legal aid mainly means free legal aid should be provided to the poor and the weaker section of the society so that the justice should be provided to them at an affordable price. This provision is mainly mentioned mainly in Article 39A of the Constitution of India. And is also a part of fundamental rights as fundamental rights are enforceable by the court of law and if violated a strict action is to be taken for it.

So, recently there was a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2016 which says that the right to legal aid is guaranteed under article 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution. There was a bench of five benches consisting of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, Justices Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde, and R. Banumathi which has given the above-mentioned judgment

This bench has further observed that “life” implies not only in the physical sense but it also includes bundles of rights which will not affect the quality of life so as to access to the right to access to justice out of the purview of the right enshrined under article 21 of the Indian constitution.

The essence of access to justice

There are mainly 4 main points which lead to access of justice to the people. They are as follows-

The need for the adjudicatory mechanism

One of the main reasons for the establishment of the adjudicatory mechanism is to provide the justice to the people whether described as the court, tribunals, commission or authority or called by any other name so that the people can agitate their grievances and seek adjudication whenever they feel like. The adjudicatory mechanism should not only be effective but it should be just and fair to the people of India. So all the court, tribunals etc should not only be just and itself but it should also follow the principle of natural justice. The principle of natural justice mainly consists of two principles i.e., Audi Alterem Partem (to hear the other side) and Nemo Judex Causa Sua which means no one can be a judge in his own case. These two principles should be followed.

The mechanism must be conveniently accessible in terms of justice

The courts, tribunals should be easily accessible to the people so that they can get justice easily. It mainly depends upon the litigants that how he/she presents the case in front of the court, tribunals etc as the judgment will be given on the basis of the facts and circumstances present before them so it is the duty of the client to appoint proper litigant for the case so that access to justice becomes easy to them.

The process of adjudicator must be speedy

Access to justice is given the constitutional value but it will be of no use if speedy justice is not provided to the people. There is a famous saying “justice delayed is justice denied”. This means that if there is no speedy justice which is provided to the people then the justice is denied. If the dispensation of justice is so laborious, time-consuming, indolent and frustrating to the person who is seeking for justice will not only deny accessing of justice but justice itself.

There is the famous case of Sheela Barse. in this case, the court declared that the speedy trial is the facet of right to life and if this trial goes on endlessly the right to life will be violated. The government has also taken various steps to solve this problem by making subordinate courts so that the people whose case are not that big can get speedy justice and the access to justice also becomes easy for the people.

The process of adjudication must be affordable to the disputants

Article 39 A of the Constitution of India consists of the right to legal aid. This legal aid should mainly be provided to the poor and weaker section of the society so that justice should be provided to the needy people at the affordable price.