The idea of provisioning free legal aid is that no one should be deprived of their legal rights due to any financial insufficiency. It was because of this intent that the Indian law provides for free legal aid. Article 39A of the Indian Constitution, lists ‘Equal Justice and free legal aid’ as a directive principle of state policy. This has also been seen as a corollary of the right to Protection of life and personal liberty as envisaged in Article 21.
- The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to ensure that the weaker sections (inclusive of economically weaker sections) of the society could reach out and be represented.
- There are legal service institutions constituted based on territorial and subject-matter jurisdiction. These are Taluk Legal Services Committee, District Legal Services Authority, State Legal Services Authority, High Court Legal Services Committee, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee and National Legal Services Authority.
- There is no monetary charge for getting and submitting an application form for free legal aid.
- One can seek help both online and offline. Authorities usually have an office to assist and move applications.
- One can either access or apply on the online portal of NALSA (https://nalsa.gov.in/) or the website of the respective State Legal Services Authorities.
- Email the application to NALSA (at [email protected]).
- The form is to be filled out and could be either submitted physically or by post.
- If required, the application can also be written on a piece of paper, giving certain specifications.
- The Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs) can fill up the forms for you and hence the application can also be filed orally.
- If the person is illiterate, thumb impressions can be affixed on the application.
Specifications if you choose to write an application instead of filling a pre-made form-
- Residential address
- Employment status
- Whether SC/ST (with proof in support)
- Income per month (with affidavit)
- The case for which legal aid is required
- Reason for seeking legal aid, etc.
It can be submitted physically or by post.
Information to be furnished along with the application-
- If you have opted for the online procedure the website itself asks for relevant documents required.
- Otherwise, the authorities may ask for identity proofs, requisite certificates/affidavit as proof of belonging to a particular category to avail free legal services.