Legal Service An Indispensable Part of Legal System

lawzmag.comThe concept of legal aid should not be considered as extraneous and foreign to our legal system but as an essential part of it. It is neither a charitable sentiment nor an idle dream or a utopian project. It is an organic and real function of the administration of justice. It is an effective mode of imparting social justice, which means real justice in society. This must be considered vital for furtherance of social solidarity and national integration of different sections of Indian Community. It is to be seen as the legal commitment of the State to its citizens.

In formal sense legal aid is neither more nor less than the help given to a person concerned to maintain his or her right under the law. At its minimum, it is phrase which means giving to persons of limited means grants, or for nominal fees, legal advice and legal assistance in court in civil and criminal matters. But the upholding of a man’s right has to be seen in the light of social and economic conditions for that, the meaning of legal aid is to be re-understood. Legal aid reacts against inequitable conditions of life in society, which are  maintained under  the law. It is an anti-
monopolistic, socialistic or collectivist device calling for the proper distribution of the services of law. Legal aid in its wider meaning equalizes the fruits of justice in action in all social, economic and political fields. It makes imperative that no man shall be denied his right at law for lack of means.

In order to give statutory basis to legal services in India,the Parliament of India enacted a Legislation in the year 1987, to be known as the Legal services Authorities Act, 1987. Due to certain objections’ from the side of judiciary it could not be amended immediately and as result of which it was in the year of 1994 by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act. The Act came into operation on 9th November 1995 and that day is celebrated as legal service day throughout country. All the governmental and non-governmental activities and programmes on the eve of the legal services day.

The LSA Act, 1987 was passed to constitute legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity. The Act strives to fulfill the aims and objectives as envisaged under Art.39 of the Constitution of India.

Before passing of the legal services Authorities Act, 1987 legal aid could not be provided in the cases, which involve fully or partially the following matters: Defamation, Malicious Prosecution, Contempt of Court, Breach of Oath, Election Proceedings, Cases of offence where pecuniary punishment is not more than Rs.50/-; Any matter under Civil Right Protection Act, 1955; Any matter under Immoral Traffic (Prohibition) Act, 1956;Any matter under social and economical offences.

The term “Legal Service” includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any Court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter 

In special cases the chairman of the Supreme Court legal services Committee can provide legal services even in the above cases.Usually legal aid is not refused in the cases  where a question of  public importance is concerned. Where legal services are provided as a special case, reasons are required to be recorded. Where the Authority or the Committee has assigned a legal services Lawyer he cannot get any case or kind or other benefit from the person aided by the Committee. The assigned Lawyer is entitled for his honorarium as decided by the Committee.

After passing of the Act there is no ban to provide legal services in mentioned cases, therefore, the scope of legal services should not be restricted. Legal service means help or assistance or free service in  the field of law. Apex Court of India from time to time asserted that legal aid is not a charity but a paramount duty of a welfare state. Now legal assistance from state can be claimed as matter of right, therefore, the legal service is being used in place of legal aid (Sec 2(1)(c) of LSA Act, 1987).

Modes of Legal Services:

Legal services may be provided any one or more of the followings-

Payment of Court Fee, Process Fee and all other charges payable or incurred in connection any legal proceedings;

Charges for drafting, preparing and filing of any legal proceedings and representation by legal practitioner in legal proceedings.Cost of obtaining and supply of certified copies of judgment, orders and other documents in legal proceedings;

Cost of preparation of paper book (including paper, printing and translation of documents) in legal proceedings and expenses incidental thereto. The term “Legal Service” includes the rendering of  any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any Court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter”. Now the scope of legal services is increasing day by day. Broadly, legal services include- Legal Aid or Assistance Lok Adalat, and Public Interest Litigation.

the field of law. Apex Court of India from time to time asserted that legal aid is not a charity but a paramount duty of a welfare state. Now legal assistance from state can be claimed as matter of right, therefore, the legal service is being used in place of legal aid.

It is significant to note that the Supreme Court of India in several land mark judicial pronouncements in Hussainara Khatoon Vs Home Secretary, M.H. Hosket Vs State of Maharashtra, Khatri Vs State of Bihar and Sukadas Vs Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh have ruled that right to free legal aid at the State cost is a part of the fundamental right and it is not confined to prisoners only. Since protection of the human rights is of violation thereof, has to be viewed with concern. Therefore, free legal aid and settlement of the disputes of the poor, needy and downtrodden who live in the lower economic margin of the society is an imperative need in a democratic state which aims at an egalitarian social order. Needless to say, that the greatest achievement of the Supreme Court in all these years is the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens and more particularly there has been expanding horizon of Article 21.

Section 12 of the L.S.A. Act, 1987 provides that every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if that person is – A member of the Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar 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 underserved want such a 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 Mental Health

Act, 1986 (14 of 1987); or (h) At the time of passing the Act legal aid could be available to the person who was in receipt of 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. Now the ceiling of ncome has been raised to Rs.25,000  if case is before Court upto the level of High Court and Rs.50,000 if the case is before the Supreme Court of India.

The poor litigants in India are looking towards the members of the Bar that they will give a helping hand to uphold the noble tradition of the profession.

Entitlement of Legal Service: Persons who satisfy all or any of the criteria specified in the Act shall be entitled to receive legal services provided that the concerned Authority is satisfied that such person has a prima facie case to prosecute or to defend, and  that person have to be submit an affidavit for making him eligible to the entitlement of legal services  under this Act unless the concerned Authority has reason to disbelieve such affidavit.

Since protection of the human rights is of violation thereof, has to be viewed with concern.

Advantage to settle the dispute through Lok Adalat: Every award of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a decree of a civil court, or, as the case may be. If any matter is referred from the court for settlement by compromise in Lok Adalat, the court fee whatever paid at the time of institution of suit, will be refunded. Every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final like Supreme Court decision and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no appeal shall lie to any court against the award.

Permanent Lok Adalat: Every State Authority shall, by notification, may establish Permanent Lok Adalat at such places and for exercising such jurisdiction in respect of one or more public utility services and for such areas as may be specified in the notification. However, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall not have jurisdiction in respect of any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law and the value of the property in dispute exceeds ten lakh rupees. Provided that  the Central Government, may, by notification, increase the limit of  ten lakh rupees in consultation with the Central Authority.

Legal service means help or assistance or free service in the field of law. Apex Court of India from time to time asserted  that legal aid isnot a charity but a paramount  duty of a welfare state. Now, legal assistance from state can be claimed as matter of right, therefore, the legal service is being used in place of legal aid.

Conclusion

Legal Aid is primarily the responsibility of the Bars and the persons belong to the Legal Fraternity. The Scheme sponsored by the Government cannot be operative without full support of the Bars and Law Universities and Law Collages and such support cannot come unless Lawyers come forward voluntarily. The poor litigants in India are looking towards the members of the Bar that they will give a helping hand to uphold the noble tradition of the profession. Thus, providing legal aid to the needy persons cannot be vitiated whether it is a professional liability or social liability.

Dr. Sailaja Petikam

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