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CHANAKYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY

Project of Legal History

On

Legal Aid and Lok Adalat

Submitted to:

Dr. Priya Darshini

Submitted by:

Sonu Shubham

Roll no. 1651

(1st Year BBA.LLB)


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Writing a project is one of the most significant academic challenges I have ever faced. Though this
project has been presented by me but there are many people who remained in veil, who gave their all
support and helped me to complete this project.

First of all I am very grateful to my subject teacher Dr. PRIYA DARSHINI without the kind support
and help of whom the completion of the project was a herculean task for me. She donated her
valuable time from her busy schedule to help me to complete this project and suggested me from
where and how to collect information and data.

I am very thankful to the librarian who provided me several books on this topic which proved
beneficial in completing this project.

I acknowledge my friends who gave their valuable and meticulous advice which was very useful and
could not be ignored in writing the project. I want to convey a most sincere thanks to my parents for
helping me throughout the project.

SONU SHUBHAM

ROLL NO. 1651

2nd SEMESTER

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CONTENTS

TOPIC PAGE NO.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 2

INTRODUCTION 4

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES


RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
HYPOTHESIS

LEGAL AID 6

LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987 11

LOK ADALAT 23

CONCLUSION 29

BIBLIOGRAPHY 31

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INTRODUCTION

The researcher will deal with the introduction of Article 39A of the constitution which deals with
Legal Aid in India followed by the history and inception the concept of legal aid and th en the
researcher will further elaborate the different aspects of the legal aid i.e., who are eligible to get the
legal aid, how to apply for the legal aid.

Then the researcher will further deal with the introduction of Legal Services Authority Act, 1987
which explains Lok Adalat following the inception of the first Lok Adalat and the reason behind
making the Lok Adalats, the nature of cases that are referred to this courts according to the different
levels of these courts. There will also be a section discussing about the relation of legal aid and Lok
Adalats.

At first came the legal aid in the Article 39A of the constitution in order to maintain the equal
opportunity of justice to all the segments of the society. 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 law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity
to all. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal
justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.

Lok Adalats (peoples courts) settle dispute through conciliation and compromise. Legal Services
Authorities Act 1987 First time held at Junagadh (Gujarat) in October 1982 Accepts cases
pending in regular court under their jurisdiction. The salient features of this form of dispute
resolution are participation, accommodation, fairness, expectation, voluntariness, neighbourliness,
transparency, efficiency and lack of animosity. The evolution of this movement was a part of the
strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases and to give relief to the litigants
who were in a queue to get justice.

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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES :

The researcher will undertake this research to find about the concept and different aspects of Legal
Aid and Lok Adalat in India consisting of :

History
Working and function
Laws related to them
How to apply and approach
Where and whom to apply and approach

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY:

The researcher has used doctrinal method in his research, that is, extensive use of literary sources and
materials. The researcher mainly uses secondary sources to provide substance to the research
analysis. The researcher has also put down immense effort in order to understand the terms and
concepts related to the subject which enriched the study to a great extent. In some cases, the
researcher shall be bound to extract materials directly from the literary work of certain authors which
the researcher intend to adequately cite and notify in due course of time. Doctrinal research or
traditional research involves analysis of case laws, arranging, ordering and systematizing legal
prepositions and study of legal institutions, but it does more it creates law and its major tools
through legal reasoning or rational deductions. In the opinion of Boomin, this kind of research
represents more a practical regulative ideal of how the judicial process ought to be conceived by the
judiciary than a theoretical analysis of its actual structure and functioning. The researcher has gone
through many web articles and statutes to complete this project. The researcher has also gone
through the books of research methodology, history and political sciences in order to seek all the
information required through completion.

HYPOTHESIS

The researcher assumes that because of burden of numerous pending cases and quality of justice the
new courts known as lok adalat was formed and because many poor people could not get the legal
help they need, the legal aid program was introduced.
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LEGAL AID

Legal Aid implies giving free legal services to the poor and needy who cannot afford the services of
a lawyer for the conduct of a case or a legal proceeding in any court, tribunal or before an authority.
The earliest Legal Aid movement appears to be of the year 1851 when some enactment was
introduced in France for providing legal assistance to the indigent. In Britain, the history of the
organised efforts on the part of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to
1944, when Lord Chancellor, Viscount Simon appointed Rushcliffe Committee to enquire about the
facilities existing in England and Wales for giving legal advice to the poor and to make
recommendations as appear to be desirable for ensuring that persons in need of legal advice are
provided the same by the State.

"Legal Aid scheme was first introduced by Justice P.N. Bhagwati under the Legal Aid Committee
formed in 1971. According to him, the legal aid means providing an arrangement in the society so
that the missionary of administration of justice becomes easily accessible and is not out of reach of
those who have to resort to it for enforcement of its given to them by law" the poor and illiterate
should be able to approach the courts and their ignorance and poverty should not be an impediment
in the way of their obtaining justice from the courts. Legal aid should be available to the poor and
illiterate. Legal aid as defined, deals with legal aid to poor, illiterate, who don't have access to courts.
One need not be a litigant to seek aid by means of legal aid. Legal aid is available to anybody on the
road.

One need not be a litigant to seek aid by means of legal aid. Legal aid is available to anybody on the
road. Justice Blackmun in Jackson v. Bishop says that; "The concept of seeking justice cannot be
equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice."

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 law and a legal system which promotes
justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is
fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and
weaker sections of the society. Sec. 304, Criminal Procedure Code: The Constitutional duty to
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provide legal aid arises from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time
and continues whenever he is produced for remand.

Since 1952, the Govt. of India also started addressing to the question of legal aid for the poor in
various conferences of Law Ministers and Law Commissions. In 1960, some guidelines were drawn
by the Govt. for legal aid schemes. In different states legal aid schemes were floated through Legal
Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments. In 1980, a Committee at the national level was
constituted to oversee and supervise legal aid programmes throughout the country under the
Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati then a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. This
Committee came to be known as CILAS (Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes) and
started monitoring legal aid activities throughout the country. The introduction of Lok Adalats added
a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a
supplementary forum to the litigants for conciliatory settlement of their disputes. In 1987 Legal
Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the
country on a uniform pattern. This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November 1995 after certain
amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994.

Contributions Made By Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer To The Development Of Legal Aid - Processionals
Justice To Poor- A Report

The contribution of justice Krishna Iyer towards the development and incorporation of the concept of
legal aid in the Indian legal system has been tremendous. His report titled Processionals justice to
poor has gone a step further in enabling the recognition of the poor for the purpose of giving legal
aid.

In a report on Free Legal Aid in 1971. Justice Bhagwati observed " even while retaining the
adversary system, some changes may be effected whereby the judge is given greater participatory
role in the trail so as to place poor, as far as possible, on a footing of equality with the rich in the
administration of justice."

A similar report of the Committee on Legal Aid titled "processionals justice to poor" presided over
by Krishna Iyer in 1973, dealt with the nexus between law and poverty, and spoke of PIL in this
context. It emphasized the need for active and widespread legal aid system that enabled law to reach
the people, rather than requiring people to reach the law.
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The two judges joined forces as a two member committee on juridicare, released its final report in
August 1977. The report while emphasizing the need for a new philosophy of legal service
programme cautioned that it must be framed in the light of socio-economic conditions prevailing in
the Country. It further noted that the traditional legal service programme which is essentially Court
or litigation oriented, cannot meet the specific needs and the peculiar problems of the poor in our
country. The report also included draft legislation for legal services and referred to Social Action
Litigation.

Justice Krishna Iyer was appointed as the Chairman of Committee for Legal Aid. The Committee
was formulated as on the 22nd day of October 1972. The Committee after conducting sample
surveys of large part of the country submitted a 275 page report to the Government on the 27th day
of May, 1973. This report came to mark the cornerstone of Legal Aid development in India. The
report clearly laid down that it is a democratic obligation of the State towards its subject to ensure
that the legal system becomes an effective tool in helping secure the ends of social justice. He coined
the word "Juridicare" to cover a scheme of legal aid which brought justice to the doorstep of the
lowly and which was comprehensive in its coverage.

The report clearly suggests the colonial hangover of the Indian legal system which has prevented it
from realising its true potential and extent. It also recognises the fact that much of our law was
created by the British to suit their convenience and as a result of this it is mostly insensitive to the
socio-economic problems of the masses it set out to govern and regulate.

The report also made an effort to classify those categories of persons


who are most in need of Legal Aid, they are as follows:-1

# The poor in general;


# Those persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, i.e. that category of persons
who have been both economically as well as socially exploited by the cultural elitists since time
immemorial.
# Those persons who either by reason of being inhabitants of backward areas or who are so

1
http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/laid.htm

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geographically placed that their voice cannot reach the Courts of justice, e.g. People who are
inhabitants of Scheduled Areas, Mountainous terrains, landlocked regions etc.
# The workman and the peasantry class who toil and labour to earn rewards for their hard work of
which they are often deprived.
# Those soldiers and armed forces personnel who in order to protect the boarders are stationed at the
edge of the land for long periods of time.
# Women and children who are deprived social justice on grounds of biological infirmity.
# Untouchables or those who are referred to as Harijans and who even after abolition of
Unctouchability under Article 17 of the Indian Constitution are shunned by the Administrative class
on the ground of their unacceptance in the community.

The 14th Law Commission Report stated the fact that if laws do not provide for an equality of
opportunity to seek justice to all segments of society they have no protective value and unless some
arrangement is made for providing a poor man the means to pay Court fees, advocates fees and
other incidental costs of litigation, he is denied an opportunity to seek justice.

Justice Krishna Iyer rightly observed that, "Such a consummation, a proposition to which we are
Constitutionally dedicated is possible only through an activist scheme of legal aid, conceived wisely
and executed vigorously." He went on to state that Law and Justice cannot be regarded as two
separate wings any longer and that it had become necessary that they in unison work towards
resurrecting the faith of the poor man in the legal system by providing him with adequate non-
Governmental as well as Governmental assistance.

Justice Krishna Iyer regarded the Legal Aid program as a catalyst which would enable the aggrieved
masses to re-assert State responsibility under Part IV of the Constitution.

Most social evils are an outcome or creation of poverty and the misery that comes with being poor in
a country like India, at the same time it also needs to be borne in mind that the judiciary no matter
however committed it may be towards uplifting the cause of the poor is ultimately bound by
procedural formalities which do not take into account the misery or problems of the masses.
Therefore the sufferings being so may it is not possible for the legal system to remove even few of
such problems. In keeping with the same view Justice Krishan Iyer asserted that poverty is a creation
of unjust institutions and unjust society. Therefore in a country like India if you are poor you are
ineffective socially as well as economically the only way that you can then be empowered is through
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radical revamping of the socio-economic structure. Such a radical change according to him could
only be brought about in the form of a revolution that the legal service programme only is capable of
gearing. Thus the legal aid programme aimed at revamping the socio-economic structure by way of
removing the socially unjust institutions and creating a new order based upon the ethos of human
liberty, equality and dignity of mankind.

He realized the fact that though the system had been flagged off under the term "We the people of
India" it had no longer continued in the same direction want of procedural formalities had taken
precedence over the people at the cost of which justice often suffered casualties. He came to
recognize the fact that the Courts of law had merely become instruments for laws sake and were not
administering justice as such. However, he placed blame for the attitude of the judiciary on the
colonial hangover of namely all institutional systems in the Country. This lead him to express faith in
the Gandhian system which professed the resolution of disputes at the grass root level through
village Panchayats.

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LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987.

"Legal Aid scheme was first introduced by Justice P.N. Bhagwati under the Legal Aid Committee
formed in 1971. According to him, the legal aid means providing an arrangement in the society so
that the missionary of administration of justice becomes easily accessible and is not out of reach of
those who have to resort to it for enforcement of its given to them by law" the poor and illiterate
should be able to approach the courts and their ignorance and poverty should not be an impediment
in the way of their obtaining justice from the courts. Legal aid should be available to the poor and
illiterate. Legal aid as defined, deals with legal aid to poor, illiterate, who don't have access to courts.
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 law and a legal system which promotes
justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is
fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and
weaker sections of the society. The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice
dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the
litigants for conciliatory settlement of their disputes. In 1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was
enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the country on a uniform pattern.
This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced
therein by the Amendment Act of 1994. Hon. Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra the then Chief Justice of India
played a key role in the enforcement of the Act.

Criterion For Providing Legal Aid2

Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 prescribes the criteria for giving legal
services to the eligible persons. Section 12 of the Act reads as under:-
Every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if that

2
http://nalsa.gov.in/content/who-entitled-free-legal-service

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person is-
(a) A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;

(b) A victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;

(c) A woman or a child;

(d) A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;

(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; or

(f) An industrial workman; or

(g) 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

(h) 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.

Entitlement to Legal Services :-

(1) Persons who satisfy all or any of the criteria specified in Section 12 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.
(2) An affidavit made by a person as to his income may be regarded as sufficient for making him
eligible to the entitlement of legal services under this Act unless the concerned Authority has reason
to disbelieve such affidavit.

(Rules have already been amended to enhance this income ceiling).


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Legal Services Authorities after examining the eligibility criteria of an applicant and the existence of
a prima facie case in his favour provide him counsel at State expense, pay the required Court Fee in
the matter and bear all incidental expenses in connection with the case. The person to whom legal aid
is provided is not called upon to spend anything on the litigation once it is supported by a Legal
Services Authority.

HOW TO APPLY :3

A person in need of free legal services can approach the concerned authority or committee through
an application which could either be made by sending in written form,or by filling up the forms
prepared by the said authorities stating in brief the reason for seeking legal aid or can be made orally
in which case an officer of the concerned legal services authority or a paralegal volunteer can assist
the person.

A person can also apply online for getting Legal Aid to any Legal Services Institution in the country
by filling up the Legal Aid Application form available online at NALSAs website by going on the
Online Application Link on the Home Page, along with uploading necessary documents.

Various SLSAs/DLSAs/SCLSC/HCLSCs/TLSCs also have application forms available on their


websites.

Legal aid is provided to the entitled persons through legal services authorities existing from the
National to Taluka levels including the NALSA, State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal
Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
and High Court Legal Services Committees. If, however, an application or request for legal aid is
received by NALSA, NALSA forwards the same to the concerned authority.

Once the application is submitted with the proper authority, it would be perused by the concerned
Legal Services Institution as to what action is needed upon the same. The information about the next
step on the application would then be sent to the parties concerned.

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http://nalsa.gov.in/content/how-apply

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The action taken on an application received would vary from providing counselling/advice to the
parties, providing a lawyer to represent them in the court, etc.

Hierarchy of Bodies Created Under The Act

A nationwide network has been envisaged under the Act for providing legal aid and assistance.
National Legal Services Authority is the apex body constituted to lay down policies and principles
for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame most effective and
economical schemes for legal services. It also disburses funds and grants to State Legal Services
Authorities and NGOs for implementing legal aid schemes and programmes.

In every State a State Legal Services Authority is constituted 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. State Legal Services Authority is headed by the Chief Justice of the State
High Court who is its Patron-in-Chief. A serving or retired Judge of the High Court is nominated as
its Executive Chairman.

District Legal Services Authority is 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 are also constituted for each of the Taluk or Mandal or for 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.

Constitution of the National Legal Services:

The Central Authority shall consist of -


a. The Chief Justice of India who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;
b. A serving or retired Judge of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the President, in consultation
with the Chief Justice of India, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and
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c. Such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be
prescribed by the Central Government, to be nominated by that government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of India.
The Central Government shall in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, appoint a person to be
the Member-Secretary of the Central Authority, possessing such experience and qualifications as
may be prescribed by that Government, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the
Executive Chairman of the Central Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be
assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

The administrative expenses of the Central Authority, including the salaries, allowances and
pensions payable to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the Central Authority,
shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

Supreme Court Legal Services Committee:

The Central Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the Supreme Court Legal Services
Committee for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be
determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

The Committee shall consist of -

a. A sitting judge of the Supreme Court who shall be the Chairman; and
b. Such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be
prescribed by the Central Government to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India.
The Chief Justice of India shall appoint a person to be the Secretary to the Committee,
possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central
Government.

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The schemes and measures implemented by the Central
Authority:4

a. After the constitution of the Central Authority and the establishment of NALSA office towards the
beginning of 1998, following schemes and measures have been envisaged and implemented by the
Central Authority:-

(a) Establishing Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalats in all the Districts in the country for
disposal of pending matters as well as disputes at pre-litigation stage;
(b) Establishing separate Permanent & Continuous Lok Adalats for Govt. Departments, Statutory
Authorities and Public Sector Undertakings for disposal of pending cases as well as disputes at pre-
litigation stage;
(c) Accreditation of NGOs for Legal Literacy and Legal Awareness campaign;
(d) Appointment of "Legal Aid Counsel" in all the Courts of Magistrates in the country;
(e) Disposal of cases through Lok Adalats on old pattern;
(f) Publicity to Legal Aid Schemes and programmes to make people aware about legal aid facilities;
(g) Emphasis on competent and quality legal services to the aided persons;
(h) Legal aid facilities in jails;
(i) Setting up of Counselling and Conciliation Centres in all the Districts in the country;
(j) Sensitisation of Judicial Officers in regard to Legal Services Schemes and programmes;
(k) Publication of "Nyaya Deep", the official newsletter of NALSA;
(l) Enhancement of Income Ceiling to Rs.50,000/- p.a. for legal aid before Supreme Court of India
and to Rs.25,000/- p.a. for legal aid up to High Courts; and
(m) Steps for framing rules for refund of court fees and execution of Awards passed by Lok Adalats.

National Legal Services Authority was constituted on 5th December, 1995. His Lordship Hon. Dr.
Justice A.S. Anand, Judge, Supreme Court of India took over as the Executive Chairman of National
Legal Services Authority on 17the July, 1997. Soon after assuming the office, His Lordship initiated
steps for making the National Legal Services Authority functional. The first Member Secretary of the

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http://nalsa.gov.in/acts-rules

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authority joined in December, 1997 and by January, 1998 the other officers and staff were also
appointed. By February, 1998 the office of National Legal Services Authority became properly
functional for the first time.

In October, 1998, His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand assumed the Office of the Chief Justice
of India and thus became the Patron-in-Chief of National Legal Services Authority. His Lordship
Hon. Mr. Justice S.P. Bharucha, the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court of India assumed the
office of the Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority.

The First Annual Meet of the State Legal Services Authorities was held on 12th of September, 1998
at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi which was presided over by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S.
Anand, the then Executive Chairman, NALSA. His Lordship Hon. Mr. Justice S.B. Majmudar,
Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, the
Members of the Central Authority and the Executive Chairmen and Member Secretaries of the State
Legal Services Authorities attended this Meet. In this Meet, the progress of on-going schemes which
had been initiated by NALSA was examined and decisions of far reaching implications were taken
with a view to strengthen and streamline legal aid programmes in the country. The Second Annual
Meet of the State Legal Services Authorities was held at Jubilee Hall, Hyderabad on 9th of October,
1999. This Meet was inaugurated by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, the Chief Justice of
India and Patron-in-Chief, NALSA. Hon. Mr. Justice S.P. Bharucha, Executive Chairman, NALSA
delivered the keynote address. Other dignitaries present at the inaugural function included Hon. Mr.
Justice S.B. Majmudar, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, Supreme Court Legal Services
Committee, Hon. Mr. Justice M.S. Liberhan, Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court and
Members of Central Authority.

In pursuance of the call given by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, the Chief Justice of
India in the First Annual Meet, 9th of November is being celebrated every year by all Legal Services
Authorities as "Legal Services Day".

NALSA is laying great deal of emphasis on legal literacy and legal awareness campaign. Almost all
the State Legal Services Authorities are identifying suitable and trustworthy NGOs through whom
legal literacy campaign may be taken to tribal, backward and far-flung areas in the country. The
effort is to publicise legal aid schemes so that the target group, for whom Legal Services Authorities
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Act has provided for free legal aid, may come to know about the same and approach the concerned
legal services functionaries.

NALSA has also called upon State Legal Services Authorities to set up legal aid cells in jails so that
the prisoners lodged therein are provided prompt and efficient legal aid to which they are entitled by
virtue of section 12 of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Constitution of State Legal Services Authority:

A State Authority shall consist of -


(a) the Chief Justice of the High Court who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;
{b) a serving or retired Judge of the High Court, to be nominated by the Governor, in consultation
with the Chief Justice of the High Court, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and
(c) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be
prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of the High Court.

The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoint a
person belonging to the State Higher Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a District Judge,
as the Member-Secretary of the State Authority, to exercise such powers and perform such duties
under the Executive Chairman of the State Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as
may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

A person functioning as Secretary of a State Legal Aid & Advice Board immediately before the date
of constitution of the State Authority may be appointed as Member-Secretary of that Authority, even
if he is not qualified to be appointed as such under this sub-section, for a period not exceeding five
years.

The administrative expenses of the State Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions
payable to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the State Authority shall be
defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

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High Court Legal Services Committee:

The State Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the High Court Legal Services
Committee for every High Court, for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such
functions as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

The Committee shall consist of

a) a sitting Judge of the High Court who shall be the Chairman; and
b) such number of other Members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be
determined by regulations made by the State Authority, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the
High Court.

Functions of the State Authority:

It shall be the duty of the State Authority to given effect to the policy and directions of the Central
Authority.

The State Authority shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-
a) give legal service to persons who satisfy the criteria laid down under this Act.
b) conduct Lok Adalats, including Lok Adalats for High Court cases;
c) undertake preventive and strategic legal aid programmes; and
d) perform such other functions as the State Authority may, in consultation with the Central
Authority, fix by regulations.

Constitution of the District Legal Services Authority:

A District Authority shall consist of :-


a) the District Judge who shall be its Chairman; and
b) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be
prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of the High Court.

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The administrative expenses of every District Authority, including the salaries, allowances and
pensions payable to the Secretary, officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be
defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

Functions of District Authority:

The District Authority may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-
a. co-ordinate the activities of the Taluk Legal Services Committee and other legal services in the
District;
b. organise Lok Adalats within the Districts; and
c. perform such other functions as the State Authority may fix by regulations.
Constitution of the Taluk Legal Services Committee:
The Committee shall consist of -
a. the senior Civil Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who shall be the ex-
officio Chairman; and
b. such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be
prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of the High Court.

Functions of Taluk Legal Services Committee:

The Taluk Legal Services Committee may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-
a. co-ordinate the activities of legal services in the taluk;
b. organise Lok Adalats within the taluk; and
c. perform such other functions as the District Authority may assign to it.

Certain salient features of the Act are enumerated below:-

Section 2 Definitions.-

(1) (c) 'legal service' includes the rendering of any service in the conduct any case or other legal
proceeding before any court or other Authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal
matter;

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(d) 'Lok Adalat' means a Lok Adalat organised under Chapter VI;
(g) 'scheme' means any scheme framed by the Central Authority, a State Authority or a District
Authority for the purpose of giving effect to any of the provisions of this Act;
(h) 'State Authority' means a State Legal Services Authority constituted under Section 6;
(2) Any reference in this Act to any other enactment or any provision thereof shall, in relation to an
area in which such enactment or provision is not in force, be construed as a reference to the
corresponding law or the relevant provision of the corresponding law, if any, in force in that area.

Section 19

1.Central, State, District and Taluk Legal Services Authority has been created who are responsible
for organizing Lok Adalats at such intervals and place.
2.Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following: -
a. A sitting or retired judicial officer.
b. other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of High Court.

Section 20: Reference of Cases

Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under:-


1. By consent of both the parties to the disputes.
2. One of the parties makes an application for reference.
3. Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the
Lok Adalat.
4. Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other
legal principles.
5. Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation, the matter shall be returned to the
concerned court for disposal in accordance with Law.

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Section 21

After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties, award is passed by the conciliators. The
matter need not be referred to the concerned Court for consent decree.
The Act provisions envisages as under:
1. Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court.
2. Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute.
3. No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat.

Section 22

Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of :-
1. Summoning of Witnesses.
2. Discovery of documents.
3. Reception of evidences.
4. Requisitioning of Public record.

According to section 2(1) (a) of the Act, legal aid can be provided to a person for a 'case' which
includes a suit or any proceeding before a court. Section 2(1) (aaa) defines the 'court' as a civil,
criminal or revenue court and includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law
for the time being in force, to exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions. As per section 2(1)(c)
'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.

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LOK ADALAT

NALSA5 along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat is one of the
alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of
law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably. Lok Adalats have been given
statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under the said Act, the award
(decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding
on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law. If the parties are not
satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an
award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by
filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.

There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. If a matter pending in the court
of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the
court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties. The persons deciding the cases
in the Lok Adalats are called the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the role of statutory
conciliators only and do not have any judicial role; therefore they can only persuade the parties to
come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat and shall not
pressurize or coerce any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or
indirectly. The Lok Adalat shall not decide the matter so referred at its own instance, instead the
same would be decided on the basis of the compromise or settlement between the parties. The
members shall assist the parties in an independent and impartial manner in their attempt to reach
amicable settlement of their dispute.

HISTORY : Camps of Lok Adalat were started initially in Gujarat in March 1982 and now it has
been extended throughout the Country. The evolution of this movement was a part of the strategy to
relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases. The reason to create such camps were only
the pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in a queue to get justice. The concept
has been gathered from system of Panchayats, which has roots in the history, and culture of this
Country. It has a native flavor known to the people. The provisions of the Act based on indigenous
concept are meant to supplement the Court system. They will go a long way in resolving the disputes

5
http://nalsa.gov.in/lok-adalat

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at almost no cost to the litigants and with minimum delay. At the same time, the Act is not meant to
replace and supplants the Court system. The Act is a legislative attempt to decongest the Courts from
heavy burden of cases. There is a need for decentralization of justice. Since April 1985, Lok Adalats
have been exclusively organized for settlement of motor third party claims. Although the concept of
Lok Adalat was very much vogue since early years. This form was made available for settlement of
Motor Third Party claims under the initiative of former Chief Justice of India, Shir P.N.Bhagwati,
since then number of lok Adalats have been organized throughout the Country through this forum to
the satisfaction of the claimants. It is expected to gather further momentum for settlement of these
claims through this medium as both claimants do and the Insurance Company get benefit out of it.
That is the reason why Insurance Companies are interested in settling Third Party claims by Lok
Adalats. The increase in cases in Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) and backlog of pending
cases pressed the insurer and the judicial system to think about the quick disposal oriented system
like Lok Adalat/Conciliatory forums should be utilized to optimum level.

Lok Adalat now is playing sole role in solving disputes and settling MACT cases. It has become a
Dispute Management Institution. It is an informal system of dispute resolution. This is the
expeditious method to settle large number of MACT claims. It is the best provisions by the effort of
judiciary. Disposal through Lok Adalat is the only panacea for controlling the arrears of cases.
Insurance Company can save additional interest. This is the simplest method, which is devoid of
procedural wrangles of regular trial. According to Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act
1994 effective from 09-11-1995 has since been passed, Lok Adalat settlement is no longer a
voluntary concept. By this Act Lok Adalat has got statutory character and has been legally
recognized.

Nature of Cases to be Referred to Lok Adalat

1. Any case pending before any court.

2. Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court.

Provided that any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under the law shall not be settled
in Lok Adalat.

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Which Lok Adalat to be Approached

As per section 18(1) of the Act, a Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a
compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of -

(1) Any case pending before; or

(2) Any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any court for
which the Lok Adalat is organised.

Provided that the Lok Adalat shall have no jurisdiction in respect of matters relating to divorce or
matters relating to an offence not compoundable under any law.

How to Get the Case Referred to the Lok Adalat for Settlement

(A) Case pending before the court.

(B) Any dispute at pre-litigative stage.

The State Legal Services Authority or District Legal Services Authority as the case may be on
receipt of an application from any one of the parties at a pre-litigation stage may refer such matter to
the Lok Adalat for amicable settlement of the dispute for which notice would then be issued to the
other party.

Levels and Composition of Lok Adalats:

At the State Authority Level -

The Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would
constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High
Court or a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of- a member from the legal
profession; a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the
implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.

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At High Court Level -

The Secretary of the High Court Legal Services Committee would constitute benches of the Lok
Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court and any one or both of-
a member from the legal profession; a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections
and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.

At District Level -

The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute
benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one
or both of either a member from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the
upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or
programmes or a person engaged in para-legal activities of the area, preferably a woman.

At Taluk Level -

The Secretary of the Taluk Legal Services Committee organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute
benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one
or both of either a member from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the
upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or
programmes or a person engaged in para-legal activities of the area, preferably a woman.

National Lok Adalat6

National Level Lok Adalats are held for at regular intervals where on a single day Lok Adalats are
held throughout the country, in all the courts right from the Supreme Court till the Taluk Levels
wherein cases are disposed off in huge numbers. From February 2015, National Lok Adalats are
being held on a specific subject matter every month.

6
http://nalsa.gov.in/content/national-lok-adalat

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Permanent Lok Adalat7

The other type of Lok Adalat is the Permanent Lok Adalat, organized under Section 22-B of The
Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Permanent Lok Adalats have been set up as permanent bodies
with a Chairman and two members for providing compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for
conciliation and settlement of cases relating to Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph
etc. Here, even if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat gets jurisdiction
to decide the dispute, provided, the dispute does not relate to any offence. Further, the Award of the
Permanent Lok Adalat is final and binding on all the parties. The jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok
Adalats is upto Rs. Ten Lakhs. Here if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok
Adalat has the jurisdiction to decide the case. The award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is final and
binding upon the parties. The Lok Adalat may conduct the proceedings in such a manner as it
considers appropriate, taking into account the circumstances of the case, wishes of the parties like
requests to hear oral statements, speedy settlement of dispute etc.

Regular Lok Adalats8

Continuous Lok Adalat:

A Lok Adalat bench sits continuously for a set number of days to facilitate settlements by deferring
unsettled matters to the next date and encouraging parties to reflect on the terms of the mutually
accepted settlement before actual settlement.

Daily Lok Adalat:

This type of Lok Adalat is organized on daily basis.

7
http://nalsa.gov.in/content/permanent-lok-adalat

8
http://nalsa.gov.in/content/regular-lok-adalat

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Mobile Lok Adalat:

These are organized by taking the Lok Adalat set up in a Multi-utility van to different areas for
resolving petty cases and also spreading legal awareness in the area.

Mega Lok Adalat:

This is organized in the State on a single day in all courts of the State.

As on 30.09.2015, more than 15.14 lakhs Lok Adalats have been organized in the country since its
inception. More than 8.25 crore cases have been settled by this mechanism so far.

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CONCLUSION

In the beginning of this project the researcher had assumed that because of burden of numerous
pending cases and quality of justice the new courts known as Lok Adalat was formed and because
many poor people could not get the legal help they need since the seeking of justice cannot be
measured with the value of rupees and every individual should get the equal opportunity to get the
justice they seek, the legal aid program was introduced to which the researcher came to this
conclusion that the hypothesis was correct but the researcher also observed that officially legal aid
came to India much later than some other European countries. The researcher found that the earliest
Legal Aid movement appears to be of the year 1851 when some enactment was introduced in France
for providing legal assistance to the indigent. In Britain, the history of the organised efforts on the
part of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to 1944, when Lord
Chancellor, Viscount Simon appointed Rushcliffe Committee to enquire about the facilities existing
in England and Wales for giving legal advice to the poor and to make recommendations as appear to
be desirable for ensuring that persons in need of legal advice are provided the same by the State.

While in India since 1952, the Govt. of India had started addressing to the question of legal aid for
the poor in various conferences of Law Ministers and Law Commissions. In 1960, some guidelines
were drawn by the Govt. for legal aid schemes. In different states legal aid schemes were floated
through Legal Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments. In 1980, a Committee at the national
level was constituted to oversee and supervise legal aid programmes throughout the country under
the Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati then a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
But then in1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid
programmes throughout the country on a uniform pattern but it was not fully enforced. This Act was
finally enforced on 9th of November 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the
Amendment Act of 1994. This was more than 40 years after the independence but the system as of
now has taken a very successful pace in the judicial system of India.

The researcher further concluded that Lok Adalat as of now is an integral part of the legal aid system
as the system is based on ancient concept of settlement of dispute through mediation, negotiation or
through arbitral process known as "Peoples' Court verdict" or decision of "Nyaya-Panch" is
conceptualized and institutionalized in the philosophy of Lok Adalat but this also came much after
our independence i.e. in the year 1982 when the first camps of Lok Adalat were seen in Gujarat. The
researcher also observed that Lok Adalat and free Legal Aid go hand in hand as in Lok Adalats

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there is no court fee and even if the case is already filed in the regular court, the fee paid will be
refunded if the dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat plus there is no strict application of the procedural
laws and the Evidence Act while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat. The parties to
the disputes though represented by their advocate can interact with the Lok Adalat judge directly and
explain their stand in the dispute and the reasons therefore, which is not possible in a regular court of
law. This is definitely a faster and inexpensive remedy with legal status. Since the number of courts
and judges in all grades are alarmingly inadequate these Lok Adalats play a very vital role while
dispensing the previous pending cases and these Adalats also play a vital role in providing equal
access to justice, the heart of the Constitution of India, a reality

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BIBLIOGRAPHY:

The researcher has used both primary and secondary sources of data

BOOKS:

1. Indian Polity 5th Edition by A. Laxmikanth (McGraw Hill)

2. Legal Method by G.P. Tripathi (Central Law Publication)

3. Guide to Lok Adalats and Free Legal Services under Legal Services Authorities Act by S. K.
Garg (Xcess Infostore Pvt. Ltd.)

WEBSITES:

4. www.nalsa.gov.in.

5. www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in

6. www.legalserviceindia.com

7. www.lawyersclubindia.com

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