FREE LEGAL AID
India is a modern state that has accepted the concept of 'welfare state'. Hence it has to work for the welfare of the general public. It is the function of the State to establish a just social order by enacting just laws and by providing equal opportunity to all to grow. Every Government is constituted to respond to the needs and aspirations of the people and to remove social inequalities among its citizens. This promotes social justice among poor and the downtrodden. The concept of social justice must be the underlying principle in the administration of justice in the country. Today with the plethora of legislative enactments, statutory rules and regulations, and judicial precedents, Courts are a maze not only to the poor but also to a large number of persons who may not be poor financially but so intellectually on account of the lack of knowledge of the relevant laws and of the procedure for obtaining benefit thereof. They have got out of the maze by engaging lawyers and paying their fees. This route of getting out of the maze was not available to the have-nots, who may be described as poor or indigent. Resultantly, to make available the law channels of justice to the poor, free legal services have been incorporated in the legal system. The concept of legal aid to the indigent has its roots in the well-settled principle of natural justice: 'audi alteram partem'. The earliest movement in Legal Aid was in the year 1851 when an enactment was introduced in France for providing legal assistance to the indigent. By the constitutional 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, a new provision was included in the Constitution under Article 39A, for dispensing free Legal Aid. To uphold the democratic values and attain social justice Article 39A which was included under Directive Principles of State Policy (part IV) reads as under:- "Equal justice and free legal aid-The 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 disabilities". 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. LEGAL AID MOVEMENT IN INDIA - ITS DEVELOPMENT
The concept of equal justice was not unknown in ancient India. Manusmriti casts a duty on king to administer justice ignoring his whims Emphasizing on the religion, Manu states that it includes administration of justice in social, economic and political aspects, whose sanctity has to be preserved and developed. In the medieval period, though the king was required to administer Islamic law in deciding all cases irrespective of religion of the parties to the suit. Yet Hindus were administered by Hindu Law in deciding civil and religious of which the parties were Hindus. It was Jahangir who took the credit for dispensing even-handed justice to all irrespective of birth, rank of the official position. He used to say that God forbid to favour nobles or even princes in that matter of dispensation of justice. Because of his fair hearing, the justice was known as "Jahangiri Nyaya". In the modern period, 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 organized efforts on the part of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to 1944. In the same year, another Committee on "Legal Aid and Legal Advice" was appointed under the Chairmanship of Justice...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document