Why is it in the news?
- Recently, Justice BR Gavai has been nominated as the Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
More about the news
- This committee operates under Section 3A of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
- Its primary objective is to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of society, particularly in cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
- The composition of the committee involves a sitting Supreme Court judge as the chairman, along with other members possessing the experience and qualifications prescribed by the Central Authority (National Legal Services Authority or NALSA).
- Both the chairman and other members are nominated by the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
· Article 39A of the Indian Constitution states that the State must ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
· It particularly emphasizes the provision of free legal aid through suitable legislation or schemes to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
· Additionally, Articles 14 (right to equality) and 22(1) (rights to be informed of grounds for arrest) make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before the law and a legal system that promotes justice based on equal opportunity.
Legal Services Authorities Act
· Enacted in 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act provides a statutory foundation for legal aid programs in India.
· The Act aims to provide free and competent legal services to specific eligible groups, including women, children, Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), industrial workers, disabled persons, and others.
· The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) was constituted in 1995 under this Act to monitor and evaluate the implementation of legal aid programs and lay down policies for making legal services available.
· A nationwide network has been envisaged under the Act for providing legal aid and assistance.
· NALSA also disburses funds and grants to State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for implementing legal aid schemes and programs.
State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA)
· In each state, a State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) is established to implement the policies and directions of NALSA.
· The SLSA provides free legal services to the people and conducts Lok Adalats (people’s courts).
· The SLSA is headed by the Chief Justice of the respective High Court, and the senior High Court judge serves as its Executive Chairman.
· While the Chief Justice of the High Court is the patron-in-chief of the SLSA, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) holds the position of patron-in-chief of NALSA.
District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) and Taluk Legal Services Committees
· The Act also establishes District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) in districts and Taluk Legal Services Committees in taluks or sub-divisions.
· Each DLSA is chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
· Taluk or Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committees are headed by a senior civil judge.