- Apprentice Lawyer
Free legal aid and advice is your right, and National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the State Legal Services Authorities are working to help you realise it, said Supreme Court Judge Justice Madan B Lokur.
Justice Lokur was speaking during a Question-Answer Session on the All India Radio in the capacity of the Executive Chairman of NALSA, on the occasion of National Legal Services Day on November 9.
Here is a 3-minute Video Slide of the conversation. Detailed conversation is below.
Whether the dispute is big or small, one must not hesitate in approaching NALSA or the State Legal Services Authorities as the Authorities would definitely help you, he said while urging the listeners to take benefit of the various schemes and services provided by NALSA free of cost.
NALSA and the State Legal Services Authorities were established to further the “constitutional vision” of “equal justice” which is enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India, he explained.
Free legal aid and services provided by the NALSA are meant to help the poor, disabled, children and women, he said.
Justice Lokur informed the audience that currently there are as many as 60,000 lawyers and 65,000 paralegal volunteers who are working at Taluka, District and High Court Level to provide free legal aid and services to the needy, and also create awareness amongst masses.
Answering a question on delayed justice, Justice Lokur spoke at length on the inception of Lok Adalats and the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. He stated that the institution under the Legal Services Act aims to ensure speedy justice and reduce the burden of courts.
38 lakh pre-litigation as well as pending cases were disposed of in the past one year through Lok Adalats, and permanent Lok Adalats have also been established for disputes pertaining to water, electricity and other public utilities, Justice Lokur told the audience.
On being asked if the Authority had any specific provisions for victims of serious offences, Justice Lokur informed that a sum of Rs. 123 crore was granted as compensation to victims of rape, acid attack etc. under NALSA’s Victim Compensation Scheme last year, apart from helping them with free legal representation.
He further told the listeners that free legal aid was extended to two lakh jail inmates as well, and legal service clinics were established in 1,100 jails. Jail records of 650 jails have been also been digitized.
Justice Lokur urged the audience to call on NALSA’s helpline number – 15100 – for any legal assistance or visit its website to get details of its various schemes while enlightening the audience that NALSA has organized awareness camps in areas as remote as Ladakh.
Justice Lokur also disclosed that the Authority was considering the introduction of mediation as another form of alternative legal redressal.
NALSA has not only been undertaking a door-to-door campaign to further the Constitutional vision of “equal justice” and “access to justice”, but is also been actively visiting jails to apprise the inmates of their constitutional and legal rights, Justice Lokur said.
Explaining the reason behind NALSA’s focus on organizing legal aid camps and events in schools and colleges, Justice Lokur said that he hopes to encourage young students to become a part of “the movement”.
Apprising the audience of the new initiatives being undertaken by NALSA, he said the Authority would soon facilitate an “impact assessment” study of the services rendered by its lawyers and paralegals as well as the success of its schemes in that past 23 years. Such an assessment would not be carried out by NALSA but a third party, he clarified.
He further said that NALSA would start a “refresher program” to re-train its lawyers and paralegals. The Authority plans on adopting certain technological tools such as video conferencing and using social media platforms to spread awareness on right to free legal aid.
Further, a pilot project would also be introduced in the remote area of Leh and Kargil in Jammu & Kashmir to provide adequate legal representation to people who are facing litigation before the Jammy & Kashmir High Court. Once successful, the project would be extended to other parts of the country, such as the North-East.
Justice Lokur took the opportunity to urge lawyers, paralegals, NGOs and other authorities associated with NALSA to continue working in furtherance of goals of equal justice.
Listen to the Audio below: