Executive Chairman NALSA: President Droupadi Murmu has recently appointed Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on September 2, 2022.
- Justice Chandrachud takes up the position that became vacant after Justice U.U. Lalit was elevated as the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI).
- Before being elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Chandrachud served as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and prior to that a judge of the Bombay High Court.
About the NALSA:
- The NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society.
- While the CJI is the Patron-in-Chief, the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court of India is the executive chairperson of the Authority.
- There is a provision for similar mechanism at the state and district levels also headed by the Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Judges of District courts respectively.
- 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.
- Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.
- Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.
Objectives of Legal Services Authorities:
- Provide free legal aid and advice.
- Organise lok adalats.
- Spread legal awareness.
- Promote settlements of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms.
- Various kinds of ADR mechanisms are Arbitration, Conciliation, Judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat, or Mediation.
- Provide compensation to victims of crime.
Legal Services Institutions at Various Levels:
National Level: NALSA was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
State Level: State Legal Services Authority. It is headed by the Chief Justice of the State High Court who is its Patron-in-Chief.
District Level: District Legal Services Authority. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.
Taluka/Sub-Division Level: Taluka/ Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee. It is headed by a senior Civil Judge.
High Court: High Court Legal Services Committee
Supreme Court: Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
Who is Eligible for Getting Free Legal Services?
- Women and children
- Members of SC/ST
- Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster.
- Disabled persons
- Industrial workmen
- Persons in custody
- Victims of Trafficking in Human beings or beggar.
- Those persons who have annual income of less than the amount prescribed by the respective State Government, if the case is before any court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs. 5 Lakhs, if the case is before the Supreme Court.