Frequently Asked Questions
What are Legal Services?
Legal Services includes providing Free Legal Aid to those weaker sections of the society who fall within the purview of Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. It also entails creating legal awareness by spreading legal literacy through legal awareness camps, print media, digital media and organizing Lok Adalats for the amicable settlement of disputes which are either pending or which are yet to be filed, by way of compromise. NALSA also undertakes necessary steps by way of social action litigation with regards to any matter of special concern to the weaker sections of the society. Legal services also encompasses facilitating the beneficiaries to get their entitlements under various government schemes, policies and legislations.
Who is entitled to Free Legal Aid?
The sections of the society as enlisted under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act are entitled for free legal services, they are:
- A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
- A victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;
- A woman or a child;
- A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
- 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; or
- An industrial workman; or
- In custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956(104 of 1956); or in a juvenile home within the meaning of clause(j) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986); or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987(14 of 1987);or
- a person in receipt of annual income less than the amount mentioned in the following schedule (or any 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 Rs 5 Lakh, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
Punjab: Rs. 3,00,000
Haryana: Rs. 3,00,000
Chandigarh: Rs. 3,00,00
Is a woman irrespective of her income/financial status eligible for free legal aid?
Yes, a woman is entitled for free legal aid irrespective of her income or financial status. A woman is eligible to apply for free legal aid by virtue of Section 12(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Till what age can a child apply for free legal aid?
A child is eligible for free legal aid till the age of majority i.e. 18 years. This is effectuated by Section 12 (c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Am I eligible for free legal aid if I do not earn/have enough money to pay for my case?
Yes, you are eligible for free legal aid if you fulfill the criteria under Section 12 (h) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. It states that those persons who have annual income of less than the amount prescribed by the respective State Government, if the case is before any court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs. 5 Lakhs, if the case is before the Supreme Court, are eligible for free legal aid. The income ceiling limit has been prescribed by different States/Union Territories.
As per Section 13(2) of the Act, an affidavit made by a person as to his income is generally regarded as sufficient for making him/her eligible for the entitlement of legal services under the Act, unless the concerned Authority has reasons to question or disbelief such affidavit.
Is Free Legal Aid Confined to the Cases before the Subordinate Courts?
No, free legal aid is not confined to cases before the subordinate Courts. Legal Aid is provided to the needy from the lowest Court to the Supreme Court of India. Legal Aid Counsel represent such needy persons before the lower Courts, High Courts and also before the Supreme Court of India.
What kind of cases can I apply free legal aid for?
According to Section 13 (1) of the Act, any individual who satisfies any criteria under Section 12 is entitled to receive legal services, provided that the concerned Legal Services Authority is satisfied that such person has a genuine case to prosecute or defend the matter. There is hence no bar as to which kind of cases one can apply and not apply for. All kinds of cases are included as long as the individual satisfies the eligibility under Section 12 of the Act.
Can I get only free legal consultation even if I do not want to pursue a proper case in the courts?
Yes, it is possible to get any kind of legal consultation under free legal aid/services.