India is a country where even today more than half of the population of India is below the poverty line. Since they are also part of the Indian Society, therefore it is necessary to make the rules and regulations for the upliftment. The government of India has the power to make laws that will help the needy and the poor. The right to provide free legal aid is one. Free legal aid means providing free legal services to the poor and the needy. These services are being provided because people cannot afford the services of an advocate for the conduct of a case.

Grant of Free Legal Aid under different laws

The Preamble of Constitution, India aims to secure justice to all irrespective of a social, economic, and political factor. Article 21 states every person has an equal right to life and liberty except according to the procedure established by law. Article 38(1) asserts State to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people. As per Article, 39A State has the duty to provide free legal aid to those who cannot access justice because of economic and other disabilities.

The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

This Act came with the objective to constitute legal services authorities. The authorities will provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society. This will ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by economic or other disabilities. This Act also provides for the composition of Lok Adalats. The aim is to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.

As per the Act, ‘legal service’ includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case before any court. It also includes giving advice on any legal matter.

Section 12

Section 12 of the Act, provides for the criteria of persons entitled to legal services. The list includes:

(a) Member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

(b) Victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar as referred in article 23 of the Constitution.

(c) A woman or a child.

(d) A person with a disability as defined in clause (i) of section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

(e) A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake, or industrial disaster.

(f) An industrial workman.

(g) A person in custody.

(h) In receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as prescribed by the State Government; if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court. The other circumstance is where the annual income is less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as prescribed by the Central Government if the case is before the Supreme Court.

Under the Act, there are provisions for the establishment of different authorities that will help in regulating the free legal services. The authorities are:

  1. National Legal Services Authority is constituted by the Central Government. It will exercise the functions assigned to the Central Authority. [Section 3]
  2. State Legal Services Authority is constituted by every State Government. It will perform the functions assigned to the State Authority. [Section 6]
  3. District Legal Services Authority is constituted for every District by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. It will perform the functions conferred on the District Authority. [Section 9]


It is the responsibility of the State to provide the legal system which will promote justice based on equal opportunity for all its citizens. Providing justice is the main aim of society. This objective will only be fulfilled when the poor get an equal opportunity to fight for their rights. The poor should not be denied justice.

The intent of the authorities should be to provide an arrangement in the society which makes the machinery of Justice easily accessible. Moreover, justice should reach to those who have to resort to it to enforce rights given to them by law.


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