HOW TO CLAIM FREE LEGAL AID
Free Legal aid means the provision of free legal services in civil as well as criminal matters to socially and economically disadvantaged people who are unable to incur the expenses of such services. These services include representation by a lawyer in legal proceedings, preparation of pleadings, translation and drafting of documents, advice on any legal matter etc.
The Legal Services Authorities Act provides a nationwide uniform and interconnected structure to administer free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society.
As stated in Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, the people entitled for free legal services are as follows-
- A member of Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, or
- A victim of human trafficking or beggar as per Article 23 of the Constitution, or
- A woman or a child, or
- A victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster, or
- An industrial worker, or
- A person in custody, including custody in a protective home, or in a juvenile home or in a psychiatric hospital, or
- A person receiving an annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the state government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court; and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the central government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
The procedure involved in the process of Free Legal aid is as follows-
- Application (offline or online)– Free legal aid can be applied for either in offline or online mode.
Offline– One way of applying through this mode is to write an application on a simple piece of paper, including necessary information relating to the applicant such as his name, gender, employment status, residential address, nationality, whether SC/ST (with proof), income per month (with affidavit), the case for which the legal aid is required, reason for seeking legal aid etc.
Another way is to get an application form from the nearby Legal Services Authority, fill it completely, and submit it. Moreover, an application can also be made in an oral form, in which the officer of the concerned authority or a paralegal volunteer can provide assistance.
Online– A person can also apply through online mode. This can be done by filling up the Legal Aid Application form available online at NALSA’s (National Legal Services Authority) website by clicking on the ‘online application’ link and by uploading necessary documents.
- Sending the application to the concerned authority– The various authorities to which a person should approach, depending upon the territorial jurisdiction and subject-matter of the case, are as follows-
- Taluk Legal Services Committee, which is within the jurisdiction of the Court in that Taluk; or
- District Legal Services Authority, which is in the premises of the District Court in the District Headquarters; or
- The concerned State Legal Services Authority, for particular cases, panels of which are maintained at State level
- The High Court Legal Services Committee, which is in the premises of the concerned High Court; or
- The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, for cases before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
If an application is made via offline mode, the applicant has to submit the application to the concerned authority. If an online application has been received by NALSA, it forwards the same to the concerned authority.
- Examination- The concerned authority, after receiving the application, examines and scrutinizes the application, documents and the case in order to execute the process of free legal aid.
- Action- After proper and thorough inspection of the application, the authority comes to its decision on acting upon the same. The actions taken by the authority include providing a lawyer for representation in the court, providing counseling or advice to the parties etc.
- Updating the parties- At last the, parties are updated and informed about the action and the steps to be taken by them in its execution.
# HOW TO CLAIM FREE LEGAL AID