The Legal Services Authorities Act- 1987, is an Act to constitute legal services authorities to entail the provision of free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for those poor and marginalized people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer for the conduct of a case or a legal proceeding in any court, tribunal or before an authority and to organise Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
The sections of the society as enlisted under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act are entitled for free legal services, they are :
(a) A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
(b) A victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;
(c) A woman or a child;
(d) A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
(e) A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or
(f) An industrial workman; or
(g) In custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956(104 of 1956); or in a juvenile home within the meaning of clause(j) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986); or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987(14 of 1987);or
(h) In receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
A person in need of free legal services can approach the concerned authority or committee through an application which could either be made by sending in written form, or by filling up the forms prepared by the said authorities stating in brief the reason for seeking legal aid or can be made orally in which case an officer of the concerned legal services authority or a Para Legal Volunteer can assist the person. A person can also apply online for getting Legal Aid to any Legal Services Institution in the country by filling up the Legal Aid Application form available online at NALSA’s website by going on the ‘Online Application’ Link on the Home Page, along with uploading necessary documents.