Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 10


Areeb Ahmad


A need to constitute a statutory legal services authorities on National, State and District levels so
as to provide effective monitoring of the legal aid programmes and with this endeavour and
objective and for providing for the composition of such statutory legal services authorities and for
the funding of such authorities by means of grants from the central government and state
government, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted which came into force w.e.f. 9
November, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced in it. The year 1987, proved to be
very significant in Legal Aid history, as the “Legal Services Authorities Act” was enacted to give
a statutory base to legal aid programs throughout the country and bring about a uniform pattern.
The said Act provides for the setting up of the National Legal Services Authority, the State Legal
Services Authorities in different States, the District Legal Services Authorities at different district
levels as well as creation of setting up of Permanent Lok Adalats. The Act also provides for a
mechanism whereby supervision can be done regarding the functioning of the State Legal
Services Authorities by the National Legal Services Authority and of the District level Services
Authorities by the State Legal Services Authorities.
The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, displaced the ‘Committee for the Implementation of
Legal Aid Schemes (CILAS)’ and introduced a hierarchy of judicial and administrative agencies.
Under this Act, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) at the Centre and a State Legal
Services Authority in every States were ordered to be constituted to give effect to its directions.
National Legal Services Authority was made functional under the executive chairmanship
of Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, Judge, Supreme Court of India on 17 July, 1997. By February, 1998
the office of National Legal Services Authority became properly functional for the first time.
NALSA is a statutory apex body which has been set up to lay down policies and principles for
making legal services available and to frame most effective and economical schemes for legal
services and for implementing and monitoring legal aid programs in the country. It also disburses


funds and grants to State Legal Services authorities and NGOs for implementing legal aid
schemes and programmes. The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has also been
constituted under the Act. In every High Court also, The High Court Legal Services Committees
have been established to provide free legal aid to the eligible persons in legal matters coming
before the High Courts. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 also provides for constitution
of the State Legal Services Committees, High Court Legal Services Committees, District Legal
Services Committees and Taluk Legal Services Committees.
In pursuance of the call given by Justice A.S. Anand, the Chief Justice of India in the First
Annual Meet, 9 November is being celebrated every year by all Legal Services Authorities as
"Legal Services Day" and public are informed by various methods from time to time about the
important schemes introduced by NALSA and state authorities for providing legal aid and the
utility of Lok Adalats. State Legal Services Authorities all over the country organize Lok
Adalats, legal literacy camps and undertake legal awareness campaign to make people aware of
their legal rights.
Besides that the Act also seeks to devise and give impetus to another mechanism of justice
delivery system in the form of Lok Adalats and it notes that for some time now the Lok Adalats
are being constituted at various places in the country for the disposal of disputes pending in the
courts and even at pre-litigation stage in a summary way. The said concept of Lok Adalat has
proved to be very popular in providing speedier system of justice system and it was felt that there
was a need for providing statutory back up to the said institution and to give legal mandate to the
awards being given by Lok Adalats and it was felt that such a statutory support would not only
reduce the work of regular courts but also take justice to the doorsteps to the poor and needy and
make justice quicker and less expensive to the less privileged sections of the society. With these
objectives in mind, the Act provided for setting up of Permanent Lok Adalats as well as devised a
concept of mechanism to set up Lok Adalats at pre-litigative stage so that the requirement of
filing a case is obviated altogether. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, therefore, sought to
fulfill all these objectives and was thus enacted.
 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 their rights given to them by law.
 For a wide range of litigants with special needs, for instance, persons in custody, children,
women, complainants under the SC/ST Act, workmen, legal aid is automatically available
for filing or defending a case irrespective of the economic status of that person.
 Under the legal aid schemes, an extensive network of legal aid committees exists at the
Taluk, District and State levels. In addition, every High Court and the Supreme Court has
its own legal services committees.
 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 legal aid movement envisages a system where economically and socially
disadvantaged groups are assured of easy access to courts and other government
agencies for grievance redressal.
 The new rationale for legal aid emerged where law was slowly begun to be
regarded as the instrument through which socio-economic inequalities could be
lessened and through affirmative action, some amount of ‘advantage’ was being
assured to disadvantaged groups in fields of employment and education.
Delhi is the capital of India and has got a cosmopolitan character, a population and polity which
represent the entire length and breadth of India. Delhi has got pockets of Punjabis,
Maharashtrians, Dravidians, Purvanchalis, Biharis, Gujaratis, Tamilians and hue and colour of
almost all the states that form part of the federal India. It is, therefore, quite natural that Delhi,
being the Capital city, is the focus of all attention and is required to showcase the best
performance and the best efforts in ameliorating the social inequalities between the haves and
have-nots and Delhi Legal Services Authority has to emerge as a role model for all State Legal
Services Authorities.
The Delhi Legal Services Authority has been constituted under the State Legal Services
Authorities Act, 1987 and prior to that, the core activities of the Delhi Legal Services Authority
were being conducted and operated through ‘Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board’ which was
functioning in Room No. 1, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi. Subsequently w.e.f. November,
1995, the Delhi Legal Services Authority was constituted and it started functioning at Room No.
1, Patiala House Courts. Later on, some of the activities of the said Authority were transferred to
be performed from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Place, Gole Market, New Delhi and in February, 2008,
a new Central Office of the Delhi Legal Services Authority started functioning from Publication
Building, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi. The Delhi Legal Services Authority has also
constituted a High Court Legal Services Committee and District Legal Services Committees in
all the court complexes in Delhi who are having full time secretaries in order to fulfill the
objectives of the Act.
As on 30-6-2009, total 148052 persons of all categories have been benefited by Delhi
Legal Services Authority by providing legal aid, advice, conciliation etc. Delhi Legal Services
Authority also orgainsed 518 legal literacy camps in various parts of the state. In Delhi till 30-6-
2009 total 8451 Lok Adalats were held in which total 280551 cases (pending and prelitigation
matters) settled which includes 16672 Motor Accident Claim Tribunal cases. A sum of Rs.
2754435364 was awarded as compensation in MACT cases. Out of the settled cases, 131668
cases were of prelitigation stage whereas 135037 were of those categories which were pending in
different courts, tribunals etc.1

Annual Report 2008-09 published by Supreme Court of India.


• To utilize the legal aid funds for legal aid programmes and to ensure quality legal
services to the beneficiaries.
• To organize training and orientation courses to improve the advocacy skills of Legal
Services Advocates.
• To promote Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism as the preferred mode of dispute
• To establish Mediation and Conciliation Centres at all the Court Complexes and to impart
training to Advocates and Judges in Tools and Techniques of Mediation and Conciliation.
• To popularize the Concept of Plea Bargaining by organizing workshops for under trial
Jail Inmates, Legal Services Advocates, Jail and Police Authorities.
• To establish Legal Aid & Counselling Centre in Tihar Jail Court Complex as well as
different parts of National Capital Territory of Delhi covering the entire length and
breadth of Delhi city.
• To associate Students of Law Universities, Colleges and Schools in Legal Aid Activities
and legal literacy programmes.
• To promote legal literacy among people afflicted with poverty, ignorance and illiteracy
and to educate them about the rights and remedies available to them.
• To eliminate social evils like Child Labour, Domestic Violence, Dowry and Female
Foeticide from the society by creating awareness about their social, legal and cultural
consequences and proposing recommendations for the proper and effective
implementation of legislations prohibiting such practices.
• To associate, support and collaborate with Governmental and Non Governmental
Organizations in Legal Literacy programmes.
• To provide training to the Para Legal Workers, Law Students and College Students in the
Legal Aid Activities and to achieve the objectives of National Legal Literacy Mission
launched by National Legal Services Authority.
The Delhi Legal Services Authority has, apart from performing various duties assigned to it
under the Legal Services Authorities Act of providing legal aid and spreading legal awareness
etc. has undertaken certain bold initiatives and undertaken certain pioneering projects in hand
which were long overdue and which deserve a certain mention herein. Some of the big
achievements of Delhi Legal Services Authority are discussed as under;2

 MEGA TRAFFIC LOK ADALAT:- For the first time ever, the concept of Lok Adalat
was introduced to the Traffic Challans and first ever Mega Traffic Lok Adalat was
organized in Delhi on 8 and 9 September and secondly on 9 and 16 December, 2007 at all
the District Court complexes in Delhi under the directions of Arrears Committee of
Supreme Court of India headed by Mr. Justice S. B. Sinha, Judge, Supreme Court of
India in order to reduce the huge pendency of Traffic Challans Cases as well as to create
awareness of the Traffic Rules. The third Mega Traffic Lok Adalat was held on 27 April,
2008 and 4 May 2008 at all the four court complexes i.e. Tis Hazari Court, Patiala House
Court, Karkardooma Court and Rohini Court Complexes and this process is now
continuing after some intervals.
 PLEA BARGAINING ADALATS IN JAIL:- Taking its leadership role seriously, the
Delhi Legal Services Authority also achieved the unique distinction of holding of First
Ever Adalat in Tihar Jail on the recently introduced concept of Plea-Bargaining and first
ever such Adalat was held on 21st of July, 2007 and 310 cases were settled. An
informative booklet on Plea-Barganing was also released by Chief Guest Mr. Justice
Arijit Pasayat, Judge, Supreme Court of India. Delhi Legal Services Authority had
organized legal awareness programmes in all the jails in Central Jail Tihar and Rohini Jail
from 15 March, 2007 to 26 March, 2007. More than 200 under trial prisoners of each jail
attended the said legal awareness programme. Jail Visiting Advocates, Jail
Superintendents and Welfare Officers had also participated. Response of under trial
prisoners was overwhelming and encouraging and approximately 1200 under trial jail
inmates had expressed their willingness to avail the concession of the Plea Bargaining.

Information based upon the personal experience and knowledge being worked as Member Secretary, Delhi Legal
Services Authority as well as taken from the website of the Authority and its record.
 DAILY LOK ADALATS: The Delhi Legal Services Authority has also taken a lead in
holding Daily Lok Adalats since 18 of February, 2008 at Patiala House Courts, New
Delhi for the cases under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, Criminal
Compoundable cases, Motor Accident Claim Cases and Matrimonial Disputes i.e. under
sections 498A/406 IPC and 125 Cr.P.C. This step was taken with a view to provide the
forum of Lok Adalat to the people in need of the same on regular and daily basis. The
Delhi Legal Services Authority has also been organizing Lok Adalats at the pre-litigative
stage as well as pending court cases on Sundays at all the four court complexes in Delhi.
Authority commenced Lok Adalats on 29.07.2007 for the settlement of cognizable and
compoundable Offences at pre-litigation/pre-chargesheet stage at Patiala House Court
Complex, New Delhi under Alternate Complaint Resolution Exercise. Upto November,
2007, total 170 cases out of 457 cases taken up were disposed off. The same is also to be
informed to be immense help to the persons concerned and has received a very warmed
 PERMANENT LOK ADALATS: The Delhi Legal Services Authority has also set up
Permanent Lok Adalats with respect to the electricity matters pertaining to the billing
problem/misusing problems/theft problem of the three electricity distribution companies
operating in Delhi namely BSES Yamuna, BSES Rajdhani and NDPL as well as Delhi
Development Authority. Besides that Lok Adalats are being organized pertaining to
MTNL, MCD and NDMC cases as and when required. These Lok Adalats have got
tremendous response from public and become extremely popular.
 PERMANENT LEGAL SERVICES CLINIC:- Keeping in mind the fact that doors of
justice should remain open to all even at odd hours, Delhi Legal Services Authority have
also made operational 24 x 7 Permanent Legal Services Clinic located in Central Delhi at
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Place, Gole Market, New Delhi which is a central location
convenient to all. This Clinic is manned by experienced and dedicated officers who are
retired bureaucrats, judges and eminent social personalities. They are available round the
clock on telephone helpline as well as personally and people can approach the clinic in
the same manner as they go to police station for redressing their grievances. Delhi Legal
Services Authority is providing solution to the legal problems and queries raised by
General Public through toll free telephone helpline. Trained Officers, Social Workers and
Panel Advocates of the Authority, listen to their problem on phone give necessary
guidance even on phone and thereby saves a time and money of the poor persons.
 SUNDAY LOK ADALATS:- Delhi Legal Services Authority is promoting Alternate
Dispute Resolution System so as to liquidate the mounting arrears of cases in the
Criminal Courts. At present, approximately more than 5 lakh cases under Section 138
Negotiable Instruments Act are pending before Courts of Metropolitan Magistrates in
Delhi. Sunday Lok Adalats have become a regular feature of the Delhi Legal Services
Authority. These Lok Adalats have become an eye opener and helped deciding large
number of cases never settled before. Delhi Legal Services Authority organizes Lok
Adalat for the settlement of cases relating to personal loan, credit cards etc. advanced by
private sector and govt. banks like ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered, ABN AMRO, SBI
etc. on every Sunday at pre litigation stage. It provides an opportunity to the borrower to
settle their liability with the bank by negotiation and thereby, it saves time, energy and
money of the people as well as potential litigation is settled at its inception.
Authority has commenced conciliation proceedings by Mahila Courts in all the four
District Court Complexes. Lok Adalat for the settlement of cases pending in Mahila
Courts was first organized on 26.08.07 and thereafter, it is being organized twice a month
in all the District Court Complexes in Delhi. Statistical information relating to the
disposal of the cases by the Mahila Court is 156 cases out of 385 in 26 sittings.
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream”.
--Malcolm Muggeridges
Almost every country where judiciary has some say, provisions of providing legal aid to
needy and poor person has been made in one way or another but under Indian system, the way in
which it is recognised and established is found missing in judicial systems of other countaries. In
India, there is a statutory backup due to enactment of Legal Aid Act to provide legal aid to needy,
poor, eligible and certain class of socities but in most of other countries, such availability of
service depends upon some societies or associations of lawyers etc.

Lok Adalat is formed under section 19 of Legal Service Authority Act. It is also formed under
Taluk Legal Service Authority for Taluka level Lok Adalats. Delhi State Legal Services Authority
organizes Lok Adalats for settlement of all types of pending and pre-litigation Civil and Criminal
Compoundable cases regularly every month at all the 11 Districts in Delhi. DSLSA organizes
Lok Adalats in District Courts, High Court, Central Administrative Tribunal, District Consumer
Disputes Redressal Forums, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commisssion, Debt Recovery
Tribunals, Company Law Board & Revenue Courts.
Section 19 of the Act provides for the setting up and organization of Lok Adalats by State
Authority or District Authority or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or every High
Court Legal Services Committee or Taluk Legal Services Committee. The constitution of such
Lok Adalat is decided by the State Authority or the District Authority or the Supreme Court
Legal Services Committee or the High Court Legal Services Committee or, as the case may be,
the Taluk Legal Services Committee which would include:
(a) serving or retired judicial officers; and
(b) other persons,
The experience and qualifications of other persons referred to in clause (b) for Lok Adalats
organized by the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee shall be such as may be prescribed
by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India or the State
Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, as the case may be. Lok
Adalat are presided over by Retired Judge and 2 Other person having interest, social work
experience as chairman and member respectively.
A Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to determine and arrive at a compromise or settlement between
the parties to a dispute in any case pending before or any matter which is falling within the
jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any court for which the Lok Adalat is organized
provided it is compoundable.
Section 20 provides for cognizance of cases by Lok Adalats. It provides for the referral of case to
Lok Adalat at the agreement of both the parties or by, way of an application of either party
provided that the court is satisfied that there are chances of settlement in such a case and that it is
appropriate to refer the matter to the Lok Adalat. The court can suo moto also refer the matter to
the Lok Adalat after providing an opportunity to the parties to be heard. The section provides that
when a reference is made to Lok Adalat, every Lok Adalat shall with utmost expedition arrive at
a compromise or settlement between the parties and shall be guided by the principle of equity,
justice, fair play and other legal principles. If there is a failure to reach a compromise the
between the parties the records of the case the Lok Adalats sends back the record of the case and
advices the parties to seek remedy in a court. The court resumes the proceedings of the case from
the stage which was reached before the reference.