SAS Nagar :
As per directions of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman, Punjab State Legal Services Authority, awareness programme on the occasion of “Legal Services Day” was organized by District Legal Authority SAS Nagar.
While addressing the students of Chandigarh University, Gharuan, Sh. Baljinder Singh Maan, Secretary, DLSA, SAS Nagar stated that Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 enacted to provide justice to the poor and needy, was implemented on 9th of November, 1995 and since then this day celebrated as ‘Legal Services Day’.
He further added that many of righteous are not able to contest their litigation by engaging a good lawyer on account of economic limitations to shoulder the financial burden of hiring a lawyer. With a view to provide access to justice for all, assigned counsel system was adopted by the country in which services of an advocate are provided to the legal aid seeker for contesting the case. In the year 1976, Article 39A was inserted in chapter IV of our Constitution by 42nd amendment under Directive Principles of State policy making free legal aid to the needy people an obligation of the State.
Thereafter Government vide resolution dated 27th September, 1980 constituted the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Scheme under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati. In the year 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Actwas enacted and Legal Services Authorities at National, State and District as well as Sub Division level were constituted. Section 12 of this Act provides criteria for entitlement of legal services that a poor person having income less than 3.00 lac per year shall be entitled for free legal services.
Certain other categories like members of scheduled caste or tribe, victims of mass disaster, industrial workman, woman, child or a person in custody irrespective of their income are also entitled for free legal services. The meaning of free legal aid is not restricted to appointment of Legal Aid Advocate only; rather it includes payment of all miscellaneous expenses like drafting charges, court fee, process fee, diet money of witnesses etc.
He further stated that with a view to improvise the system of free legal services, National Legal Services Authority, New Delhi has switched over to Public Defender System from Assigned Counsel System in which legal aid seekers in criminal matters shall get free legal services from the advocates who have selected for providing dedicated services to legal aid leaving their private practice and they are paid monthly honorarium instead of fee per case.