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- The LSAA, 1987, came into effect in November 1995
- The idea of a legal aid programme was floated in the 1950s.
- In 1980, the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes (CILAS) was established under the chairmanship of then SC judge Justice PN Bhagwati.
- The National Legal Service Day (NLSD) was declared on November 9, 2009.
- As stated under the Act, the legal aid is to be provided by the State, District, and Taluk Legal Service Authorities/Commissions formed throughout the country.
Types of services under the Legal Services Authority Act
Free legal awareness
- To make the public aware of laws and schemes issued by public authorities.
- Legal camps and aid centres are organised by authorities so that the general public can seek advice.
Free legal aid counsel
- A person who wants to defend or file a case in a court of law but does not have the means to hire an advocate can seek the assistance of a free legal aid attorney.
- Lok Adalats are the primary method by which the legal services authorities decide disputes.
- Victim Compensation
- Settlements of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms.
- Various ADR mechanisms are Arbitration, Conciliation, and Judicial settlement, including settlement through Lok Adalat or Mediation.
Structural Organization under LSAA
- National Level: NALSA was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
- Supreme Court: Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
- State Level: State Legal Services Authority. It is headed by the State HC’s CJ, its Patron-in-Chief.
- High Court: High Court Legal Services Committee
- District Level: District Legal Services Authority. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.
- Taluka/Sub-Division Level: Taluka/ Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee. A senior Civil Judge heads it.
National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)
- It monitors and reviews the effectiveness of legal aid programs.
- It develops rules and principles for providing legal services under the Act.
- It also distributes funding and grants to state legal services authorities and non-profit organisations to help them execute legal aid systems and initiatives.
Composition Of NALSA
- NALSA shall consist of the CJI, who shall be the Patron-in-Chief.
- A serving or retired Judge of the SC (nominated by the President, in consultation with the CJI) who shall be the Executive Chairman.
Who is eligible to get free legal services?
- Women and children
- Members of SC/ST
- Industrial workmen
- Victims of mass disasters, violence, floods, drought, earthquakes, and industrial disasters.
- Disabled persons
- Persons in custody
- Victims of Trafficking in Human beings or begar.
- Those persons who have an annual income of less than
- The amount prescribed by the respective State Government, if the case is before any court other than the SC, and
- Rs. 5 Lakhs if the case is before the Supreme Court.
Legal Service Mobile App
- NALSA has launched the Legal Services Mobile App on Android and iOS to enable easy access to legal aid for ordinary citizens.
- The Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched comprehensive, holistic, integrated and systemic solutions for access to justice at the pan-India level.
- This will be achieved through a “Designing Innovative Solutions for Holistic Access to Justice (DISHA)” scheme.
- All the Access to Justice Programmes have been merged under the DISHA scheme and upscaled to all India levels.