National Legal Services Day


    In News

    • National Legal Services Day (NLSD) is marked across the country annually on the 9th of November. 
      • It was first started by the Supreme Court of India in 1995.

    About the Day

    • The day is observed to commemorate the enactment of the Legal Services Authorities Act and to create awareness about the various provisions related to the act.
    • The Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted in 1987 to provide a “statutory base to legal aid programmes” in India on a uniform pattern.
    • The purpose of the Act is to provide competent and free legal aid to people who belonged to marginalised socio-economic communities in the country. 
    • The Act also mentions the setting up of Lok Adalats for the settlement of disputes amicably.

    What does the Legal Services Authorities Act entail?

    • The Legal Services Authorities Act provides free legal aid to a person if any of the following criteria are met:
      • They are a member of a Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe
      • They are a woman, child, specially-abled or mentally challenged
      • They have been a victim of human trafficking or beggar
      • An industrial workman
      • Have an annual income of less than Rs 9,000 or any such amount laid down by the government
      • A victim of “a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity”, natural or industrial disaster
      •  In custody, juvenile home or protective custody or in a psychiatric nursing home or hospital
    • The NALSA will bear the costs of filing or defending the case, as well as provide the person with counsel at the expense of the state.

    Legal Services Institutions

    • National Legal Services Authority: An apex body constituted to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame the most effective and economical schemes for legal services.  Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief.
      • It also disburses funds and grants to State Legal Services Authorities and NGOs for implementing legal aid schemes and programmes.
    • State Legal Services Authority: To give effect to the policies and directions of the Central Authority (NALSA) and to give legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. Headed by the Chief Justice of the State High Court who is its Patron-in-Chief.
    • District Legal Services Authority: Constituted in every District to implement Legal Aid Programmes and Schemes in the District. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.
    • Taluk Legal Services Committees:  Constituted for each of the Taluk or Mandal or for a group of Taluk or Mandals to coordinate the activities of legal services in the Taluk and to organise Lok Adalats. 
      • Every Taluk Legal Services Committee is headed by a senior Civil Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who is its ex-officio Chairman. 

    Constitutional Provisions

    • Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. 
    • Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before the law and a legal system that promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. 

    Source: Firstpost