Tuesday, November 15, 2011

National Legal Services Authority: Monitoring and Evaluating the Implementation of Legal Aid Programmes

Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all.  Articles 14 and 22 (1) of the Constitution also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity to all.  In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the Parliament which came into force on 9th November, 1995 with an object to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society on the basis of equal opportunity.  The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to monitor and evaluate implementation of legal aid programmes and to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the Act.
            In every State, a State Legal Services Authority and in every High Court, a High Court Legal Services Committees have been constituted.  District Legal Services Authorities and Taluk Legal Services Committees have been constituted in 598 Districts and 2136 Taluks in order to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to provide free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.  The State Legal Services Authorities are chaired by a senior judge of the respective High Courts, the District Legal Services Authorities are chaired by the District Judges of the respective Districts and the Taluka Legal Services Committees are chaired by the senior most Judicial officers at the Taluka Level.
            Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted to administer and implement the legal services programme in so far as it relates to the Supreme Court of India.
            For the financial year 2011-12, NALSA has been sanctioned a sum of Rs. 3.95 Crore under various administrative object heads for administrative expenses of NALSA and grant-in-aid to the tune of Rs. 45 crore for implementation of legal services programmes throughout the country.
FUNCTIONING OF NALSA:
            The NALSA has framed schemes and issued guidelines for the State Legal Services Authorities to implement the Legal Aid Programmes and schemes throughout the country.
            Primarily, the State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Taluka Legal Services Committees, etc. have been asked to discharge the following two main functions on regular basis:-
1.      To provide Free Legal Services to the eligible persons; and
2.      To organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes
FREE LEGAL SERVICES:
            The Free Legal Services include: (1) Payment of court fee, process fees and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings in appropriate cases; (2) Providing Advocate in legal proceedings; (3) Obtaining and supply of certified copies of orders and other documents in legal proceedings; (4) Preparation of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings (5) providing other legal services like rendering legal advice (6) legal aid clinics to be set up in all villages or for a cluster of villages to be manned by para-legal volunteers (PLVs)

            Eligible persons for getting fee legal services include: (1) Women and children; (2) Members of SC/ST; (3) Industrial workmen; (4) Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster; (5) Disabled persons; (6) Persons in custody; (7) Persons whose annual income does not exceed Rs. 1,00,000/- (in the Supreme Court of India and in some States the limit is Rs. 50,000/-); (8) Victims of Trafficking in Human beings.
LOK ADALATS:
            Lok Adalat is one of the Alternative Disputes Resolution Mechanisms.  It is a forum where all types of disputes/ cases of civil nature and compoundable criminal cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.  The Lok Adalat has been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.  Under this Act, an award made by a Lok Adalat is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties.  No appeal lies against such Awards.
            Lok Adalats are being organized by the Legal Services Authorities/ Committees u/s 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.  Matters such as Matrimonial/ Family disputes, Criminal Compoundable Offences cases, Land Acquisition Cases, Labour Disputes, Workmen’s Compensation, Bank Recovery cases, Pension cases, Housing Board and slum clearance cases & Housing Finance cases, Consumer Grievance cases, Electricity matters, Telephone Bills disputes, Municipal matters including House Tax cases, Disputes with Cellular Companies etc. are being taken up in the Lok Adalats.
            With a view to provide compulsory pre-litigation mechanism for conciliation and settlement of disputes relating to ‘Public Utility Services’, the Parliament has amended the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.  The amended Act stipulates the establishment of Permanent Lok Adalat for exercising jurisdiction in respect of disputes relating to Public Utility Services, such as, transport service, postal, communication, supply of power, service in hospital/ dispensary insurance service, etc.  A party to a dispute with such public utility service has to make an application to the Permanent Lok Adalat established under Section 22B of the Legal Services (Amendment) Act, 2002 which has been vested with jurisdiction to decide the matter. 
            States of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and U.T. of Chandigarh have established Permanent Lok Adalats for public utility services under Chapter VI-A.
            Achievements of the Legal Aid programme during the last 3 years is as follows:

Year
cases settled in Lok Adalats

SC

ST

Women

Children

In custody

General

Total
2008
30,18,197
31,627
21,142
50,665
1,982
28,645
2,58,027
3,92,088
2009
22,51,012
29,660
19,660
48,179
1866
27,381
2,87,749
4,14,795
2010
30,52,936
58,548
25,175
49,761
1607
31,957
3,70,155
5,37,203
2011 (up to June, 2011)
14,53,169
27,103
12,240
29,208
1676
17,097
4,29,344
5,16,668

No comments:

Post a Comment