The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
The sections of the society as enlisted under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act are entitled to free legal services, they are:
–A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (Not OBC)
–A victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;
–A woman or a child;
–A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
–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
–An industrial workman; or
—A person in receipt of annual income less than the amount as may be prescribed by the State Government), if the case is before a Court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs 5 Lakh, if the case is before the Supreme Court. [NALSA website provides income eligibility list for various states and UTs with most of them providing services to people below 1 lac annual income threshold].
—Senior citizens’ eligibility for free legal aid depends on the Rules framed by the respective State Governments in this regard.
In Delhi for example, senior citizens are eligible for free legal aid subject to a prescribed ceiling of annual income. Any individual above the age of 60 can apply for free legal aid/services.