Legal Aid: National and International Perspective
The ultimate purpose of legal aid in India is to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society which ensures the opportunities for securing justice, which is one of the important facets of our Constitution, is not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. Hence, the legal aid has been recognized internationally as well as the legislature parked and implanted many legislations to implement the same in our Indian Legal system.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
Article 8 of the declaration recognizes the right to free legal aid. It says that everyone has right to approach the National Tribunal for effective remedy in case of violation of Fundamental Rights. Whereas, Article 10 of the declaration recognizes the human right of full equity emphasize on the fair public hearing and independent and impartial tribunals to determine right. Furthermore, Article 14 says that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from prosecution.
2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1996
Article 14 of the covenant states that all person shall be equal before courts and tribunals. Everyone is entitled to fair public hearing by competent and independent tribunals or courts. The accused should be informed about the offence and should be granted adequate time to prepare.
- The Constitution of India
The preamble is considered as the objective teller for our constitution. Hence, ‘justice’ enshrine in the preamble is one of the objectives of the constitution. So, it is the duty of the state to promote justice to the weaker sections of the society for the socio- economic welfare. The Doctrine of Rule of law that is equality before law enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution promotes equality in the legal field also. The three principles of natural justice that is nemo debet essc judex in propria causa, audi alterum partem, and reasoned decision are the founding stones of article 21 of the constitution. It grants the basic right to justice to everyone. Furthermore, Article 39A of the constitution obligates the state to secure operations of the legal system to promote justice, on the basis of equal opportunity and provide free legal aid to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizens.
2. Code of Civil Procedure
Order 33 of the code provides for filling of application as an indigent person. A person is indigent when he is unable to pay the prescribed fees, in that case the state government can provide free legal services to indigent persons.
3. Code of Criminal Procedure
Section 303 of the code recognizes the right of a person accused of an offence in criminal court, to be defended by a pleader of his choice. Whereas, section 304 obligates the courts to assign a pleader for the accused at the expense of the state if the person do not have sufficient means to engage a pleader.
4. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987
The act was enacted to efficiently implement legal aid in the Indian legal System. The act recognizes the composition, powers and functions of various legal service authorities at different levels- national, state, district or taluk. Section 12 of the act specifies the category for persons who are entitled for legal services.
5. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Regulations, 1996
Rule 13 specifies the modes in which legal services can be granted whereas Rule 14 states the conditions or persons to whom legal services cannot be provided. Rule 18 states the conditions in which the granted legal services can be withdrawn.
Hence, at last, by counting the above observations, we can say that, the significance of legal aid is well recognized and the codification of the same has been appropriately done for implementation.