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Legal Services Authority Act (LSAA),1987

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ADR refers to how people can resolve disputes without a trial. These processes are generally confidential, less formal, and less stressful than traditional court proceedings.
  • ADR can be instrumental in reducing the burden of litigation on courts

Structural Organization under LSAA

  1. National Level: NALSA was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
    • Supreme Court: Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
  2. 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
  3. District Level: District Legal Services Authority. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.
  4. Taluka/Sub-Division Level: Taluka/ Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee. A senior Civil Judge heads it.

Organizational Structure - National Legal Services Authority!

  • 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

  1. NALSA shall consist of the CJI, who shall be the Patron-in-Chief.
  2. A serving or retired Judge of the SC (nominated by the President, in consultation with the CJI) who shall be the Executive Chairman.
  • 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.

Other Initiatives

  • NALSA has launched the Legal Services Mobile App on Android and iOS to enable easy access to legal aid for ordinary citizens.

DISHA Scheme

  • 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.

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