The National Legal Services Authority was formed with the objective of providing free legal services to the weaker and disadvantaged sections.
In this article, we will discuss the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in a simple and easy way. So to understand this article well, definitely read till the end.
What is the National Legal Services Authority?
It is written in the preamble that social, economic and political justice should be ensured to all citizens. Apart from this , Article 39A of the Directive Principles of State Policy states that it is an obligation of the states to provide free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society. Apart from this, Articles 14 and 22 (1) of the Constitution also make it mandatory for the state to ensure equality before the law.
To ensure all this and fulfill the promise of the Preamble, in 1987, the Legal Services Authority Act was enacted by the Parliament , which came into force on 9th November, 1995, to provide free and efficient access to the weaker sections of the society. It was implemented to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing legal services .
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What does free mean?
Free or free legal services include –
1. Payment of court fees, process fees and all other charges etc. which are incurred in legal proceedings,
2. Providing services of advocates in legal proceedings,
3. Receive and distribute copies of orders and other documents impressed upon legal proceedings.
4. Preparation of appeals, paper books, etc., including the cost of printing and translation of documents.
Which people can take advantage of this?
The following types of people are considered eligible to take advantage of this free legal services –
- women and children
- member of scheduled caste or scheduled tribe
- Industrial worker
- person with disability
- person in custody
- victims of human trafficking
- victims of natural disasters,
- Ethnic / Caste Violence, Industrial Development
- 1,00,000/- per annum or to persons notified by the Central/State Governments
Where can this facility be availed?
It can be availed in any of the following institutions –
- Any authority exercising civil, criminal and revenue court, tribunal, judicial or quasi-judicial functions
- Entities that provide free legal services
- Legal Services Authority at National / State / District level
- Taluka / Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee
- High Court and Supreme Court Legal Services Committees
Objectives of the National Legal Services Authority
To legally empower marginalized and excluded groups by providing legal literacy and awareness so as to bridge the gap between available benefits and entitled beneficiaries.
Establishment of Lok Adalats to provide informal, speedy, cheap and effective resolution of disputes so as to reduce the burden on regular courts.
Composition of the National Legal Services Authority
National Legal Services Authority also called NALSA for short; The legal service authority is at the top. It has a post of Patron in Chief, who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Apart from this, there is the post of an executive chairman who can be any judge of the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Legal Services Committee which is called SCLSC in short. It has been constituted to administer and implement legal aid programs in the Supreme Court.
Below this is a State Legal Services Authority (SLSA for short) for the High Court of each state. And a High Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted in each High Court. Which is called HCLSC in short. Its work is also the same as the work that SCLSC does for the Supreme Court.
Under all this, District Legal Services Authority i.e. DLSA and Taluka Legal Services Authority i.e. TLSA have been formed in the districts and talukas.
This has been done so that the policies and instructions of NALSA can be made effective, as well as free legal aid to the people and Lok Adalats can be run well in the states.
You can see what you have read above in this organizational chart. Presently 36 SLSAs, 36 HCLSCs, 664 DLSAs and 2254 TLSAs are functioning across the country.
The following functions have been assigned to State Statutory Service Authorities (SLSA), District Legal Service Authorities (DLSA), Taluk Statutory Service Authorities (TLSA) etc.-
1. To provide free and efficient legal services to deserving persons,
2. To organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes,
3. To organize legal awareness camps in rural areas or any other work as may be assigned by NALSA .
NLSA lays down policies, principles, guidelines and also formulates effective and affordable plans for legal services authorities across the country.
NALSA has identified specific categories of marginalized and excluded groups from the diverse population of the country and formulated various plans for implementation of preventive measures.
Also created strategic legal services programs to be undertaken and implemented by legal service authorities at various levels.
In carrying out all these responsibilities, NALSA works in coordination with various State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities and other agencies for regular exchange of relevant information.