THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN BY MERCY NKOMO, A 2ND YEAR STUDENT OF BA LLB(HON), STUDYING AT LOVELY PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY, PUNJAB. THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES THE LEGAL AID AND ADVICE (AMENDMENT)BILL2015 AND 2017 AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON POOR PEOPLE.
Free legal aid is the provision of free legal services and criminal cases or matters for those underprivileged people who cannot afford the services of legal practitioners for the conduct of a case or a procedure in any court, tribunal or authority whenever they are the victims themselves, these are governed by the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987. It is an all-embracing concept that everyone should have the right and an opportunity in everything like the right to free legal aid, the right to education and many other more fundamental rights. Legal aid and advice can also be said that it’s a constitutional right, supported by articles 21 and 39-A of the constitution of India. Article 21of the Indian constitution states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except or according to the procedure established by the law.
Further, article 39-A directs the state to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunities, and shall provide free Legal Aid and advice in particular by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other possible ways to ensure that opportunities for attaining justice are not disavowed to any citizen because of economic or any other disabilities.
CONCEPT OF LEGAL AID
Legal Aid and advice are initiatives taken by the government when a person is either victimized by some unlawful act or is alleged accused of some unlawful commissions or omissions, they are mainly for the development and welfare of the needy people who are poverty-stricken, through it could lead to development in the nation and increase confidence in laws. They provide legal aid to those weaker sections of the society and with the incorporation of article 39-A under the 2nd amendments in the constitution in 1976 for the welfare and justice of citizens. The state cannot deny any citizen free legal aid based on their educational background, religion or any kind of disability and by so doing the state is making sure if every one in the society is well catered for especially those who cannot afford themselves attorneys. Therefore, legal aid is ensured to everyone and substantive equality under article 14 and 22(1) whereby the state makes an obligatory ensuring equality before law and legal system which promotes justice based on equal promotion for every citizen.
NEED FOR THIS ACT
This act is really needed by the less fortunate who cannot afford lawyers as it will provide legal advice, and they will get assistance. It does not empower a person to resolve their legal problems, but it as well prevents that problem from negatively impacting the other aspects of their lives. If we look closely India’s population, most people are poor, and they cannot afford high-priced services on their own, hence making this legal aid very important for the protection of the less privileged to strive for justice and so for that the countries judiciary commenced a scheme in providing legal aid services and advice to the needy as a whole society. The National Legal Services Authority( NALSA) which was inaugurated under legal services authority act of 1987 provides free legal services to the less fortunate who cannot afford them for the settlement of their problems.
IMPLICATIONS ON THE POOR
This implies that those poor and vulnerable people can now have legal access, it also helps in reducing economic impact on the state caused by unsettled or poorly resolved legal issues for example, legal aid may result in the granting of maintenance or child support meaning the beneficiary does not have to rely on governments benefits. This may also help fasten the release of unlawfully confined people, allowing the person to continue generating economic value.
When people feel sheltered by the hands of justice system, they are absurd to resort to taking matters on their own hands. Poorly resolved legal issues sometimes have a negative impact on the social and democratic fabric of the society especially when they originate from social dissatisfaction and distrust of the ability to access the justice system, hence making the accessibility of justice through legal aid strengthens the rule of law and increases trust in the justice system while reducing civil unrest.
In conclusion, poorly unresolved legal issues can have a ripple effect on many aspects of a person’s life, impacting on their health or their ability to earn a livelihood, live in dignity or form part of their community, not only that the consequences of an individual experiencing particular problems in their lives like health issues, unemployment, lack of education and many more as a result of their legal problems brings up quadrate burdens to the states as people will be seeking access to social welfare and increased health system and so legal aid beyond repair helps the needy and other weaker sections by ensuring free legal services and also speedy justice to them, however since India is a diverse country its objective should be to hold people together so that the legal system should work as per the need of the citizens to maintain peace and harmony in the society and the country as a whole which will lead to increased strong and confident laws and also strengthen democracy to administrate justice. In a country like India, legal assistance should be a fundamental requirement and hence should be available for free to the less privileged seeking justice.
The legislature has played their part by creating the the Legal Services Authorities Act but yet still a lot of things are still needed to be done to make the conception of free legal aid reality, not forgetting to create legal awareness amongst people from all portions of life and the advocates should also make sure that they carry forward a noble expedition of providing justice to everyone in the society and by so doing the visionary end of this inclination called legal aid will be fully attained.
The absence of legal awareness roots cause of rights deprivation: CJI Gogoi, (the Indian express,18 Aug 2018), https://indianexpress.com/article/india/absence of-legal-awarenes-root-cause-of-rights-deprivation-cji-ranjan-gogoi-5915247
Author: Mercy Nkomo,
LOVELY PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY,2ND YEAR